Life and Life Only

Funding a Bridge for Cougar-Crossing

On Wednesday, the Annenberg Foundation announced that it will match every dollar raised, up to $1 million, as part of the #SaveLACougars campaign to build a cougar crossing over the 101 freeway in Agoura Hills. The crossing would help LA’s cougars—a population at great risk of extinction within the next 50 years because of inbreeding—by giving them the freedom to roam and breed with mountain lions to whom they aren’t related.

On Wednesday, a group of advocates, local officials, and scientists started a 4-day, 40-mile walk from Topanga, in the Santa Monica Mountains, to Griffith Park to symbolically retrace the steps of LA’s most famous mountain lion, P-22, whose impressive journey involved crossing both the 101 and the 405 freeways.

The LA Times’ Bettina Boxall has the story. Here’s a clip:

The roughly 15 mountain lions that live in the Santa Monica range desperately need new blood. Isolated by freeways and urban development, adults are breeding with close relatives and losing the genetic diversity necessary for population survival.

A recent study by UCLA and National Park Service scientists concluded that the inbreeding leaves the local cougar population at risk of extinction within the next 50 years.

“It’s easy to think of Los Angeles as a concrete jungle. The truth is, we’re home to one of the most richly diverse ecosystems in the entire world,” Annenberg President Wallis Annenberg said in a statement. “We need to do more to protect our mountain lion population, to help them breed and thrive.”

A 2015 Caltrans report presented two alternatives for the 101 crossing, which would rise immediately west of Liberty Canyon Road.

A bridge that’s 165 feet wide and 200 feet long would cost $30 million to $35 million. A longer span over the freeway and Agoura Road — the choice of wildlife advocates — would cost $50 million to $60 million.

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