As the U.S. population grows and development expands, critical wildlife habitats have been reduced and human infrastructure has fragmented the landscape, creating barriers to wildlife movement and migration. These realities contribute significantly to native species decline. The National Wildlife Federation believes that, while these trends lead to a new set of environmental issues, they also create unique opportunities for positive intervention.
A study by the National Park Service has demonstrated that a crossing can help save the Santa Monica Mountains cougar population, which their published research shows is threatened by imminent extinction within the next 50 years. The Los Angeles freeway system—most critically U.S. Route 101 in the Santa Monica Mountains—acts as a significant barrier to genetic movement, a situation that will cause the eventual degradation and collapse of the population due to inbreeding.
In addition, there have been dozens of documented attempts by mountain lions seeking to cross the highways, and in most cases, the animals are injured or killed by traffic. The loss of mountain lions would impact the entire ecosystem because, as apex predators, they balance populations of other wildlife present.
National Park Service researchers have shown that construction of a wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills can ensure the survival and biodiversity of all wildlife in the region and promote healthy, genetically diverse populations of many species, such as bobcats, coyotes, salamanders, lizards, and even birds.
The crossing will help wildlife become resilient to persistent dangers such as climate change, habitat degradation and pollution, positively impacting the health of the entire LA region’s ecosystem.