Helping Urban Wildlife in California

This Week in NWF History: #SaveLACougars

Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to conserve the nation’s wildlife and wild places. As part of our 80th anniversary celebration, we are recognizing important moments in our history that continue to make an impact today.

The National Wildlife Federation kicked off the #SaveLACougars campaign in 2012 to protect Southern California’s mountain lions, other wildlife, and important habitat. In collaboration with many stakeholders, including our partner Santa Monica Mountains Fund, the campaign advocates for the critical habitat linkages required to ensure a healthy future for people and wildlife in this highly urbanized landscape.
p23 crossing road
Mountain lions are forced to cross busy highways to reach suitable habitat. Photo from NPS

According to a National Park Service (NPS) study, the biggest threat to mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains is the loss and fragmentation of habitat byroads and urban development. Their long-term survival depends on their ability to move between regions to maintain genetic diversity and overall population health, but traffic-heavy roadways make this movement dangerous. Researchers have witnessed the deaths of twelve lions on the roadways in the area since the NPS study began in 2002.

Our key priority for this campaign is to advocate for the construction of a wildlife crossing over the Ventura Freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills, linking protected habitat on each side of the freeway together. The bridge would resemble natural wildlife habitat and include features such as noise barriers and vegetation that would mitigate traffic noise, block light, and blend the overcrossing with the surrounding natural landscape.

The Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, when built, will be the largest such crossing in the world, and a model for urban wildlife conservation.

The project enjoys widespread support and has been featured in media outlets across the globe. The #SaveLACougars icon, P-22, is the only known mountain lion to have successfully crossed two of the busiest freeways in America — the 101 and the 405 — and has earned celebrity status near his current home in Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. P-22’s story has also earned him his own day in California on October 22, as well as sparked the first Urban Wildlife Week October 16- 22, 2016.

As part of Urban Wildlife Week, a diverse team of environmental advocates, scientists and leaders will retrace P-22’s historic 40-mile trek from the Santa Monica Mountains to his new home in Griffith Park. This unique wildlife walk, led by the Federation’s California Director Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, will showcase how Los Angeles is demonstrating worldwide leadership in urban wildlife conservation and point out vital connections that are still needed for both wildlife and people along the way.

image006Mountain lions are a perfect “poster child” for understanding the importance of connected ecosystems: they are an important part of California’s natural heritage, and a key predator for the ecosystem of the entire area. Their disappearance would be a great loss, with far-reaching impacts, and the steps we take together to save them are the same ones to reconnect the natural ecosystem for all wildlife — and people — of important urban areas.

Donate NowSupport P-22 and other urban wildlife by helping us build the largest wildlife crossing