Wildlife Mating Bridge Could Bring More Sexytime To California Cougars
The biggest wildlife overpass in the United States may help save Southern California’s mountain lions.
An enormous, grassy bridge over a 10-lane section of the 101 highway is intended to give these animals a safe way to cross between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills — where they’ll find more mating opportunities with non-relatives.
The overpass is designed to be 165 feet wide and 200 feet long, and covered in vegetation. It has an initial cost estimate of $30-40 million.
The reason this overpass is important, and not just really awesome, is that Southern California’s mountain lions — also known as cougars and pumas — are facing a serious lack of genetic diversity at the moment.
This is in part due to freeways, which impede animals’ ability to safely travel (for sex or anything else), and has led to what University of California scientists have called a “genetic bottleneck.” The mountain lion population is also now so small that observers worry about long-term viability — a situation that hasn’t been helped by some of the high-profile animals being hit by cars.
Folks are hoping that the proposed overpass — which some say would be the country’s biggest, others say could be the biggest in the world — will make a necessary difference for the animals.
“These mountain lions are running out of time and this wildlife crossing will help ensure they have a future in the Santa Monica Mountains,” said Beth Pratt, California director for the National Wildlife Federation. “But the crossing would also help a variety of wildlife navigate this highly urbanized area. Los Angeles has a chance to become a leader in urban wildlife conservation worldwide with building this crossing.”