Wildlife descending onto urban areas face crossing heavily trafficked roads and freeway.
One mountain lion was killed last month after being hit by a car while crossing Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. He had just been named P-104, as part of a study to determine how the big cats survived in fragmented and urbanized habitats.
P-104 was the 25th mountain lion to be killed by a vehicle since the study began in 2002.
“If human beings did not exist, they would carry on,” wildlife biologist Paul Gonzales told KTLA. “They are not dependent on us. But we are dependant on them to maintain this life cycle.”
Gonzales says it’s critical to maintain biodiversity, despite more development encroaching on wildlife habitats.
Many projects are now emerging to help prevent wildlife deaths.
In Agoura Hills, a ground-breaking is scheduled this month for the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, which will allow animals to safely get from one side of the freeway to the other.
“It’s vital that the mountain lion can have safe passage from the north to the south of 60 and vice versa,” Gonzales said. “Because mountain lions have a 100-mile territory and they need to be able to travel safely between areas.”
To the east in Riverside County, crews have been working to widen the 60 Freeway, which snakes through Badlands National Park — a vast area with multiple species.
The multimillion dollar project that opened about a year ago included building two undercrossings, though roadwork is still in progress.
“We have cameras there so we’ve seen they’re being used. They’re built in a way, they’re 20 feet high, 20 feet wide. It allows natural light in so the animals will actually go in there,” said John Standiford of the Riverside County Transportation Commission. “Mostly bobcats and coyotes have been using it now.”
Scientists say it’s long overdue and hopefully, new safe crossings along dangerous roadways will be the solution to prevent some wildlife deaths.