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Dead Mountain Lion Highlights Need For Wildlife Tunnel

The lion was killed last month near Liberty Canyon, where wildlife advocates have long pushed for a safe crossing tunnel.

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 7:00 am

A mountain lion killed last month on the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills could have brought new genetic material to the mountain lion population of the Santa Monica Mountains, the National Parks Service reported this week.

Preliminary DNA testing showed that the male mountain lion was travelling from north of the freeway into the Santa Monica Mountains, and into an isolated mountain lion population.

The mountain lion was hit and killed by a car while crossing the freeway near the Liberty Canyon exit, where wildlife advocates have long pushed for a wildlife tunnel crossing, according to the NPS.

“The fact that this young male chose to cross–unsuccessfully–at Liberty Canyon shows how critical this wildlife corridor is for maintaining genetic diversity in the Santa Monica Mountains,” said Dr. Seth Riley, an expert on urban wildlife with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), in a release. “This section of the 101 Freeway is the ideal path into the Santa Monica Mountains because of the natural habitat on both sides of the freeway and the connections to large areas of open space.”

Constructing a tunnel would cost $10 million, according to the NPS, but Caltrans has twice come up short in applying federal transportation funding for the project.

Mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains face a lack of genetic diversity because they are hemmed in by freeways, the Pacific Ocean and the Oxnard agricultural plain. The lack of diversity is a threat to their long-term survival, according to the NPS.

Riley and his colleagues have worked with the Robert Wayne Lab at UCLA and the Holly Ernest Lab at UC Davis to document genetic differences in mountain lion populations north and south of the freeway. They have also documented multiple cases of first-order inbreeding, in which a father mates with his offspring.

In a decade-long study tracking 30 mountain lions, the NPS recorded only one lion successfully crossing the 101. A successful crossing by the mountain lion killed last month could have brought genetic diversity to the population south of the freeway.   

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  • Tom Bates posted at 4:59 pm on Sat, Nov 9, 2013.

    Tom Bates Posts: 133

    Dear Concerned Citizen:

    When was the last time in the in a 20 year period have you heard of the death of a Mountain Lion? This is the second. The other was a cat that had been tagged and monitored by the park service.

    How did you interject money into my comments? You show your lack of knowledge of the Mountains and the animals that live there. I always believe in doing the right thing or creating a "Win "Win" result!

    The problem is the animals are protected and can't be interfered with.

    The article had well meaning but unworkable idea . There are wildlife corridors all over the Santa Monica Mountains. The problems are that the Mountain Lions can't read!!!

    The idea is unworkable! What about that don't you understand? Think dumbyi

  • Concerned Citizen posted at 11:24 am on Sat, Nov 9, 2013.

    Concerned Citizen Posts: 89

    Sadly "Tom Bates" has missed the point of the article which I believe is that preserving life is more precious than "pretend inflationary" money i.e. the $ cost of building something that would benefit many life forms. Perhaps if his family were to have been in the car that collided with the Lion he may think differently, or perhaps he has no need to drive regularily on this area of roads. The Facts are pretty simple and that has mostly to do with "doing the right thing"....our Tax Dollars are wasted every day, why not spend on something that could benefit and provide safety?

  • Tom Bates posted at 8:56 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Tom Bates Posts: 133

    Hans I am talking about tunnels. The cat always go over where ever it wants. I have seen them in the mountains and across the freeways.

    They are like our political leaders pretty but dumb.

    You are welcome you have a great family and you do good in the Community [beam]

  • hanslaetz posted at 6:38 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    hanslaetz Posts: 414

    Sounds truthy, but not true, Tom. Tagged mountain lions are observed regularly crossing above the 118 Freeway on the Rocky Peak overpass. And that's not a very optimal crossing at all.

    Wildlife crossings work all over the world, and the critters are smarter than people -- they don't need signs to find the safe way.

    PS Thanks for selling us the house we love 18 years ago. Tom Bates, Hero.

  • Tom Bates posted at 12:31 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Tom Bates Posts: 133

    The tunnel proposal for wildlife has been discussed for the last 40 years and was found to be unworkable as the animals can't read the signs for directions to these tunnels.

    One animal is not a tragedy just a fact of life with cars in the Mountains or in California.

    Get a grip folks.


  • psh posted at 12:06 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    psh Posts: 37

    An interim solution might be to import a male. Not ideal, but a lot cheaper and quicker than a tunnel.

  • DP310 posted at 8:32 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    DP310 Posts: 11

    We fully support. I bet there is a lot of support for the corridor out there. Lets get the word out.

  • Wendi Dunn posted at 7:58 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    wendi werner Posts: 84

    Thank you addressing this issue. Something definitely needs to be done, as there are only a few left.