Kids Design Wildlife Crossings

NWF’s art contest engages kids to help #SaveLACougars

Why did the mountain lion need to cross the road? While there are many answers to that question, the question tackled by visitors at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s Science Festival and the Natural History Museum’s L.A. Urban Nature Fest was not why but how.

At these events, as part of the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars campaign, kids designed ways for mountain lions to cross the road in the campaign’s first art contest.

Our first place winner, for example, Quinn Gunji suggested a draw bridge powered by solar panels for cougars to cross the freeway. Another winner, Ivan Cordner proposed making all roads in tubes underground so that animals can roam above ground without fear of cars.

Mountain lions and people have been living side by side in the country’s second largest city for many years. Estimates suggest there are 10-15 mountain lions currently in the area. The #SaveLACougars campaign is a collaborative project with the National Wildlife Federation and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund and many other partners to help protect these remaining Los Angeles cougars.

One of the most important ways to protect cougars is by simply giving the cats some space. The #SaveLACougars partners are working to build the world’s largest wildlife crossing, a bridge connecting important open spaces for the cougars and other wildlife across one of the busiest freeways in the country.

Art contest winner, Basel Thierry
Art contest winner, Basel Thierry

What should this overpass look like? Through the National Wildlife Federation’s ongoing art contest in Los Angeles, kids answered this question. NWF’s California Regional Office has received over 200 proposals for what the wildlife crossing should look like.

Three winners were chosen from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s Science Festival submissions and five were selected from the two-day Natural History Museum’s L.A. Urban Nature Fest event. Even more winners will be chosen from future NWF events! Our most creative winners receive subscriptions to Ranger Rick magazine.

LA wildlife crossing
LA wildlife crossing. Photo by Clark Stevens, RCDSMM

While plans for the crossing have already been professionally drawn, these creative approaches from young Angelinos highlight important considerations for coexisting with our wild neighbors.

Winners like Basel Thierry, Marta Essen-Conti, and Anastasia Nicdao also all included essential elements for wildlife habitat in their designs, including food, water, and cover for the animals. These are easy steps that that anyone can include in their own yards to provide wildlife-friendly habitat.

Art contest winner, Anastasia Nicdao’s design suggests baiting the bridges for the cougar’s main prey, deer, so that the cats would have a fresh meal

Check out more pictures from the art contests here.

Imagining what the wildlife crossing will look like is one thing, making it a reality is another. The #SaveLACougars project enjoys support worldwide, not just throughout the city of Los Angeles, but across the world!

Indeed, all that’s left is to fund the project. So now, the question becomes when will the mountain lion cross the road? It’s up to you!

#SaveLACougars NowHelp make the wildlife crossing a reality by learning more and donating today


About the Author: Kate Keeley is an intern for National Wildlife Federation’s California Office this summer. In the fall, she leaves the Golden State for the Great Lakes State to finish up her masters of science at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.