Los Angeles’ Mountain Lions Face Extinction Without Your Help
Mountain lions are getting struck and killed by cars crossing Highway 101, a ten-lane highway in the Los Angeles area. Experts say the local population in the Santa Monica Mountains will go extinct within decades unless these mountain lions can mate with new lions outside their range, which is bound by major highways. Fortunately, a solution is in sight — the world’s largest highway overpass wildlife crossing!
Plans are underway to build the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon that will serve as a model for habitat connectivity worldwide. Unlike a typical freeway overpass, the structure will be covered in native vegetation to provide habitat, shelter, food, and water for crossing animals. The first urban crossing of its scale, the Liberty Canyon crossing, will provide safe passage to resident animals across the 101 Freeway where 300,000 cars drive daily.
According to a long-term National Park Service (NPS) study, the 101 Freeway is the largest barrier between the Santa Monica Mountains and other large natural areas. Reconnecting these habitats would save local mountain lions from extinction and repair this fragmented ecosystem, which is one of 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots worldwide.
The Liberty Canyon crossing will take place at the 101 Freeway where it runs through the City of Agoura Hills connecting Los Angeles and Ventura Counties as the primary access route to and from Los Angeles and providing access to the central California coast. This highway is a deadly barrier for wild animals like mountain lions, bobcats, gray foxes, coyotes, and mule deer who travel between the Santa Monica Mountains, the Simi Hills, and the Santa Susana Mountains.
The 200-foot-long, 165-foot-wide overpass will blend into the surrounding mountain habitat with vegetated barriers to reduce the noise and light impacts from vehicle traffic. Wildlife crossings are proven to save animal lives as demonstrated by successful projects in Banff National Park, near Parleys Summit along Interstate 80 in Utah, and others around the world. For inspiration, watch this enchanting video of animals moving along the wildlife crossing near Parleys Summit.
In Defense of Animals has supported the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing since its inception. We have attended public planning forums, joined monthly Wildlife Corridor Working Group meetings, tabled annually at P-22 Day, presented at the SaveLACougars’ virtual conference on wildlife corridors, and written tributes to mountain lions who died crossing Los Angeles highways to raise awareness about the need for safe passage in this area. Thousands of In Defense of Animals supporters have joined the cause by signing our alert to select the most beneficial wildlife crossing design plans for wild animals.
In April 2021, we celebrated National Wildlife Week by sharing an exciting update on the progress of the vital lifeline for animals.
Now, after years of planning, we’re pleased to report that the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing is on track to break ground this November thanks to a public-private partnership between Caltrans, the NPS, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, Living Habitats, and the National Wildlife Federation. Famed architect Robert Rock and Caltrans will design the wildlife crossing so that cougars can cross unseen by human eyes.
Construction of this landmark project is expected to cost an estimated $65 - 72 million. National Wildlife Federation has raised the lion’s share of the funds to complete the construction through its #SaveLACougars campaign, and the government is supporting the project by allocating $7 million in the California State Budget.
However, the wildlife crossing will not become a reality unless an estimated $27-34 million is secured by August 31 to begin construction this November. This is our golden opportunity to contribute to save the Los Angeles’ cougars from local extinction! If we achieve this goal, thousands of animals will survive the 101 freeway. What’s more, the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing will be the first project of its kind significantly funded through private donations along with public support, which we hope will inspire other projects and save animals from deadly roads.
Achieving this goal means that mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, mule deer, gopher snakes, desert cottontails, and western toads will soon walk, slither, or hop over the 101! Also of extreme importance, it means that genetic diversity for the local mountain lion population will be restored to prevent a local extinction. Simply put, healthy mountain lion kittens will be born in the Santa Monica Mountains once more!
Please give generously today to support the first-of-its-kind Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing and save wild animals from road deaths and local extinction.
Time is running out for Los Angeles mountain lions. Without this crossing they will perish. Please don’t miss the August 1 deadline to save wild animals from deadly roads. Help us reach our goal — make a gift now to fund this lifeline for animals!
We’ll donate 50% of every contribution to build the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing and the rest of your donation will go toward our crucial advocacy work for wildlife crossings.