P-55 Crosses 101

When mountain lions try to cross Los Angeles freeways, it often proves deadly. 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. Photo courtesy of National Park Service

A Santa Monica Mountains mountain lion has successfully crossed the 101 Freeway. It’s only the fourth documented successful crossing in the 15 years that National Park Service (NPS) has studied the big cats.

“P-55, a subadult male who was recently collared in the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains, crossed the artery near Thousand Oaks last week soon after he was caught on video in a Newbury Park backyard,” an NPS press release states. “He is currently roaming the Santa Susana Mountains after also crossing Highway 23 and the 118 Freeway.”

“The overwhelming pattern we’ve observed through GPS tracking is lions coming up to the edge of a freeway and turning around,” said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “So, it’s really interesting to see another lion get across. As a whole, however, lions face significant challenges moving around the fragmented landscape in and around the Santa Monica Mountains, especially across larger roads and through intensely developed areas.”

Researchers and conservation activists point to P-55 as more proof that wildlife overpasses, like the one proposed for Liberty Canyon in Agoura, are urgently needed to help more animals safely cross the frequently fatal barriers created by the Los Angeles freeway system.

“We need your help to make this landmark crossing a reality,” says Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, California Director for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). “A generous million-dollar seed grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy helped launch our campaign, but we still have a long way to go to be shovel ready by 2018.”

The Save LA Cougars campaign was founded by a partnership of the NWF and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, and is supported by a large coalition and community of organizations, businesses, individuals and elected officials.

For more information about the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, to donate or to get involved: nwf.org/Save-LA-Cougars/Wildlife-Crossing.aspx.


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