Science | August 24, 2019 12:27 pm

World’s Largest Wildlife Crossing is Coming to California

200-foot bridge scheduled to open by 2023

Mountain lion sign
Mountain lions will be among the species benefiting from a new wildlife crossing in California.
losfuegos/Creative Commons

As a rule, wild animals and highways do not mix. That’s why California is planning a new structure near Los Angeles, the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, to enable animals to cross Highway 101 without, well, being run over or struck by moving vehicles. When completed, it will be the largest structure of its kind in the world.

According to a Smithsonian article, groundbreaking is set to take place in the next two years. The bridge will be open by sometime in 2023. 

Wildlife corridors and crossings have an obvious benefit for the animals that make use of them, but they can also help keep humans safe. As a 2018 article on the subject put it, “165 people die from accidents with animals, and animal deaths on highways cost us $1 billion annually.” Alternately, there are both idealistic and pragmatic reasons for establishing wildlife crossings.

The size and location of Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing poses its own series of challenges, but it may also help jumpstart the local population of one particular species. Smithsonian notes that “[b]y connecting solitary big cats with other members of the species, the Liberty Canyon overpass could curb mountain lion inbreeding and reintroduce genetic diversity to local populations.”

Or, as Beth Pratt, director of the California branch of the National Wildlife Federation puts it, “For those of us in L.A., having a romance prospect quashed by traffic is something we can all relate to.”

The establishment of the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing promises to be a win for science, a benefit for animals and a way to keep more humans safe—not a bad outcome for all parties involved.

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