More than 30,000 collisions between vehicles and wayward wildlife have occurred on California highways since 2015, threatening species already considered to be at risk and causing more than $1 billion in damage, according to 2018 data collected by CalMatters and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.
But a new budget approved by state lawmakers last week aims to support the construction of the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, a tunnel stretching above Highway 101 in Agoura Hills that would provide animals such as mountain lions, coyotes, deer and elk with a safe way to travel across the freeways cutting through their natural habitats. Costing $7 million, with another $54.5 million allotted for even more animal-friendly overpasses and underpasses across the state, the corridor would also help bolster populations of at-risk species by helping them to find mates, CalMatters reported Tuesday.
“What they need is genetic connectivity, and so Liberty Canyon will provide more opportunities for outside mountain lions to come in and really give that gene pool a boost and diversity,” Tiffany Yap, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco, told CalMatters. “Not only is that crossing really key for mountain lions, but it would help an incredible amount of biodiversity in the area.”