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Opinion

Readers React: Cougars are being massacred on local freeways. We need to build crossings for them

A cougar leans on a watering trough in the Santa Ana mountains in this 2015 photo.
A cougar leans on a watering trough in the Santa Ana mountains.
(Irvine Ranch Conservancy)

To the editor: The growing extinction threat to Southern California mountain lions exemplifies a larger problem. Every year about 100 mountain lions are killed on California roads, and millions of other animals like imperiled San Joaquin kit foxes and desert tortoises also become roadkill.

That death toll won’t be curbed as long as Caltrans lacks a clear legal mandate to identify collision hot spots and build wildlife crossings on highways. While California claims to be an environmental leader, other less “green” states like Wyoming have focused on building crossings that have cut wildlife mortality at key collision sites by up to 95%.

Ventura County adopted a first-of-its-kind wildlife connectivity ordinance this month to address the crisis facing local mountain lions. But local communities can’t fight this problem alone. State lawmakers need to push Caltrans to embrace crossings so that wildlife has room to roam.

J.P. Rose, Santa Monica

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The writer is a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

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To the editor: I am concerned for the future of cougars surviving the perils of isolation in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana mountains.

As Angelenos, we must press forward with viable access for the cougars through building an overpass on the 101 Freeway and an underpass from the Santa Ana Mountains to cross the 15 Freeway at Temecula Creek. We have to protect the biodiversity of our state and dedicate land for a wild habitat that includes top predators.

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Humans need to understand that further encroachment into mountain habitat with urban sprawl is not a solution to our housing crisis. Redevelopment in the city centers should be our main way of accommodating growth in California.

I urge the L.A. Times to keep publishing stories about the need for saving wildlife and for expanding habitat to preserve biodiversity.

Linda Lyke, Los Angeles

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