Activists Call for Freeway Bridge for Safe Mountain Lion Crossings

Proponents form "Save LA Cougars" campaign to raise funding for 'wildlife corridor'

More than 300 people joined wildlife activists to push on Friday for a bridge over a busy Southern California freeway that would allow mountain lions to safely cross the hills around the region's ever widening "urban-wildland interface."

The "Save L.A. Cougars" campaign kicked off Friday at a rally on Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills, the site of the proposed "wildlife corridor." Agoura Hills is about 30 miles northwest of downtown LA.

Advocates say the bridge is necessary to the cats' survival.

"There's only room for about 12 adults … and we see basically no movement across this (101) Freeway," said Seth Riley, a mountain lion researcher at UCLA.

Activists are using P-22, the celebrity mountain lion, as the "poster child" of the drive for safe animal crossings.

"They could get stranded like P-22 did," said Leigh Wyman, who lives in Beechwood Canyon, near P-22 sightings. "And he's all alone now, in his little bubble."

P-22 gained notoriety when he crossed into Griffith Park and later ingested rat poison on a hiking trail. The issue highlighted the dangers of the intersection of urban living and wildlife.

The bridge could cost up to $30 million. Advocates hope to break ground within four years. State officials are seeking a $2 million grant toward the project.

Mountain lions require a lot of land to roam, officials said. When they don't have freedom to do so, it can result in inbreeding and high mortality rates.

Wildlife crossings are not new. The Netherlands and Montana have them.

Locally, there are several over the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Simi Valley.

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