It’s awesome that we have Mountain Lions in Los Angeles! One of them, P-22, has become an international celebrity. Did you know…that P-22 grew up in the Santa Monica Mountains, and now resides by himself in Griffith Park, within a stones throw of the Hollywood sign.
P-22 and his mates P-33, P-44, P-35, P-13, P-38, P-31, P-40, P-27, P-12, P-19, P-23, P-41, P-42 and P-27 (Yes! These are all mountain lions in the Los Angeles area) need our help, and so does Beth Pratt, National Wildlife Federation California Director. She is behind a campaign to build a wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon, over the 101 freeway. To learn more: http://www.nwf.org/Save-LA-Cougars.aspx #savelacougars
Beth Pratt wrote: “P-22’s journey across two of the busiest freeways in America and his ability to survive in the second most populated city in the country has inspired people across the world. His story also inspired me to help this urban population of mountain lions through my work with the National Wildlife Federation.”
According to Dr. Seth Riley of the National Park Service and urban wildlife expert, “this is a vital crossing in one of the last undeveloped areas on the 101, and building a safe passage gives us a chance to ensure the future of the mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and Los Angeles area. Habitat loss is responsible for the rapid decline in wildlife.”
Many other wildlife crossings exist already in the USA and in other countries, and are very successful.
Wildlife Crossings around the world
Rapid deforestation and excessive human intervention into wildlife habitat has lead to frequent straying of wild animals into human habitation. Intrusion into wildlife habitat typically occurs due to illegal encroachment and also when roads, railroads, canals, electric power lines, and pipelines penetrate and divide wildlife habitat. Wild animals attempting to cross roads often find themselves in front of speeding vehicles.
Road mortality has significantly impacted a number of prominent species in the United States and elsewhere, including white-tailed deer, Florida panthers, and black bears. According to a study made in 2005, nearly 1.5 million traffic accidents involving deer occur each year in the United States that cause an estimated $1.1 billion in vehicle damage. In addition, species that are unable to migrate across roads to reach resources such as food, shelter and mates experiences reduced reproductive and survival rates.
One way to minimize human-wildlife conflict is to construct wildlife crossings such as bridges and underpasses that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. The first wildlife crossings were constructed in France during the 1950s. Since then, several European countries including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and France have been using various crossing structures to reduce the conflict between wildlife and roads.
Wildlife crossings have also become increasingly common in Canada and the United States. The most recognizable wildlife crossings in the world are found in Banff National Park in Alberta where the national park is bisected by a large commercial road called the Trans-Canada Highway. To reduce to effect of the four lane highway, 24 vegetated overpasses and underpasses were built to ensure habitat connectivity and protect motorists. These passes are used regularly by bears, moose, deer, wolves, elk, and many other species.
In the United States, thousands of wildlife crossings have been built in the past 30 years, including culverts, bridges, and overpasses. These have been used to protect Mountain Goats in Montana, Spotted Salamanders in Massachusetts, Bighorn Sheep in Colorado, Desert Tortoises in California, and endangered Florida Panthers in Florida.
The Netherlands contains an impressive number of wildlife crossings – over 600, that includes both underpasses and ecoducts. The Veluwe, a 1000 square kilometers of woods, heathland and drifting sands, the largest lowland nature area in North Western Europe, contains nine ecoducts, 50 meters wide on average, that are used to shuttle wildlife across highways that transect the Veluwe.
“ I have no illusions that the Glendale Bear or P-22 wouldn’t hesitate to dine on me given the right circumstances. But I’m still rooting for them. Deep down I’m hoping that if they can survive at the margins of human civilization without forsaking their wilderness, so can I.”
-Gregory Rodriguez, LA Times
Note: The use of rodenticide is hurting the wildlife. Call your local legislator and ask him to extend the ban on rodenticide in California: http://www.clawonline.org/ban-rodenticide-1/
To learn more and to donate: http://www.nwf.org/Save-LA-Cougars.aspx