Mountain Lion Found Dead on Road Near Site of Upcoming Wildlife Crossing in Southern California

The importance of a California project aimed at protecting wildlife was recently highlighted by an animal death along a roadway.

Over the weekend, a mountain lion was found dead on Highway 101 near Liberty Canyon Road in Los Angeles County. The animal, which officials believe was the victim of a vehicle collision, was near the site of a wildlife crossing set to open in 2025.

Wildlife bridge covers roadway
WILDLIFE CROSSING EXAMPLE. PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK / NATARAJ

Ground was broken on the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing in 2022. The $90 million project will ultimately connect the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills by spanning 10 lanes of Highway 101 at Liberty Canyon Road. The effort is a collaboration between state and federal agencies and conservation organizations.

The goal of the crossing is to give animals safe passage over the road and provide important habitat connectivity. This should cut down on road deaths but also help improve the genetic diversity of the area’s mountain lions, which find themselves on habitat islands unable to deepen the genetic pool. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy says research showed this site was the most ideal place to connect the mountains with the Simi Hills to help keep the local lion population from going extinct.

Mountain lion stands on rock
PHOTO: PIXABAY / BOBBY HERRON

On a page sharing information on the project, the conservancy explains, “The purpose of the project is to provide a safe and sustainable passage for wildlife across US-101 near Liberty Canyon Road in the City of Agoura Hills that reduces wildlife death and allows for the movement of animals and the exchange of genetic material. Without a safe and sustainable wildlife crossing, movement between these remaining areas of natural habitat is severely restricted and wildlife within the Santa Monica Mountains is essentially trapped.”

Past research has shown the effectiveness of wildlife crossings in other areas. Over a five-year period, animal-vehicle collisions were found to decrease by 90% on a key stretch of Highway 9 in Colorado where a crossing was built, while they went down by 85% over three years after a crossing was built in a high traffic area on U.S. 97 in Oregon.

Closeup of mountain lion profile
PHOTO: PIXABAY / MEDGYESI JENO
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