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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

It is so Important to remember that when regional Communities and Highway Traffic Departments finally decide to install widlife crosssings, they must build multiple "life path" structures at the agreed upon crossing point to provide connectivity for all species likely to use a given area(Little 2003)............ Different species prefer different types of structures (Clevenger et al. 2001; McDonald & St Clair 2004; Clevenger & Waltho 2005; Mata et al. 2005)................ For deer or other ungulates, an open structure such as a bridge is crucial................. For medium-sized mammals like black bears, and mountain lions, large box culverts with natural earthen substrate flooring are optimal (Evink 2002)...... For small mammals, pipe culverts from 0.3m—1 m in diameter are preferable (Clevenger et al. 2001; McDonald & St Clair 2004).................In other words, "one size does not fit all species".................LOS ANGELES OFFICIALS: PLEASE NOTE THIS AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE REALITY OF CREATING A FREEWAY 101/CHESBRO EXIT SAFE HARBOR CROSSING FOR PUMAS, COYOTES, FOXES, BLACK BEARS, BOBCATS, DEER AND THE OTHER MYRIAD SMALLER MAMMALS THAT CALL GREATER LOS ANGELES HOME

Wildlife Advocates Launch Campaign to Save Cougars

By expert estimates, the Santa Monica Mountains have less than 10 mountain lions. Advocates hope a $10-million nature overpass could help the population.
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More than 300 people rallied together near Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills on Friday with a mission — and a hashtag — to protect Southern California’s mountain lions.

“We need to speak for wildlife because they can’t speak for themselves,” said Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation. “We’re creating a model that can be replicated in other parts of the country... This isn’t just an LA story. This is very much a national story.”

State, city and local representatives joined with concerned citizens, activists and fourth-grade students from Woodlake Elementary to show support for a new campaign deemed “#saveLAcougars.” The cause advocates for building a $10-million wildlife crossing that could connect animal habitats divided from freeway developments and population growth, enabling genetic diversity for a dwindling mountain lion population. 
The wildlife overpass is still waiting approval from Caltrans and privately funded grants. While fencing and revegetation projects could begin as early as this year, a wildlife overpass won’t be likely until 2018.
In addition to helping preserve the species, advocates hope the nature overpass could help other animals access green areas needed to survive as well as serve as a community path for bikers, hikers and equestrians.
The Santa Monica Mountains contain less than 10 mountain lions, according to expert estimates, which has led to extremely low genetic diversity and inbreeding.

Skeptics of the project have doubted whether or not an animal would know to use the crossing or what kind of crossing to even build.
“It’s all based on years of research,” said Kate Kuykendall, public affairs officer for National Park Service (NPS). “I don’t think anybody can make any guarantees for sure. We’re going to put the best science behind determining what kind of crossing, where it should go, what kind of cues to give animals.” 
Environmentalists believe the rural landscape and smaller populations near Malibu Canyon and Agoura roads serves as the easiest access point for animals to cross the freeway into new territories. Plans for small modifications and clean-up projects near the freeways may further help the animals cross streets without harming animals or people

“The main thing that’s occurring is, this whole fencing is coming out and we’re going to revegetate. When the animals get across, they’ll get back toward the natural area to the left,” Seth Riley, an expert with NPS, said. 
Projects to move fencing and revegetate the area near the Liberty Canyon exits on the U.S. 101 Highway could begin within the next few months, according to Riley. Soon after, activists hope plans for the wildlife crossing will go into effect.
The wildlife crossing seems to have gained traction with many local elected officials, who showed their support on Friday.

State Sen. Fran Pavley noted that 30 years ago, developers had slated the land to be 400 apartment buildings and a carpet store.
“There’s been a lot of good work done behind the scenes. We’ve made some critical planning decisions in this area to help in making sure that this becomes a wildlife corridor for the wildlife and enjoyment of others,” Pavley said. “This could be the longest wildlife corridor in the nation with the help of Caltrans.” 
Malibu City Councilman Lou La Monte stood with the children from Woodlake Elementary when he said, “A wildlife crossing in the most populous county in the United States would send a message to the world that wild things are welcome everywhere.”

Linda Parks, chair of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC), said the groups involved have already received a $250,000 grant toward the wildlife overpass.
Barbara Marques, Senior Environmental Planner with Caltrans has been working alongside NPS and SMMC for about 10 years now, studying ways to better accommodate the changing climate of development.
In addition to implementing fencing projects on other freeways, a local tunnel project has seen positive wildlife responses and Marques hopes Caltrans can mirror that with the Liberty Canyon crossing.

“We’re going to be implementing some fencing here immediately in the next few months to enhance wildlife connectivity. We’re looking forward to working with our partner agencies on this important project. Maybe the next time we all get together, we’ll be at the groundbreaking for this project.”

 wildlife corridor important facts

Attention Mary Wiesbrook and colleauges:........note that research to date suggests that mountain lions utilize wildlife underpasses, not overpasses...........let us keep this in mind as we collect the ten million dollars needed to build our freeway 101 wildlife mitigation corridor......see below in the paragraph titled OVERPASSES

Removing and mitigating barriers to wildlife movement

Although roads and urban areas usually occupy only a small fraction of a linkage design, their impacts threaten to block animal movement between the habitat blocks. In this section, we review the potential impacts of these features on ecological processes, identify specific barriers in the linkage design, and suggest appropriate mitigations.
While roads and fences impede animal movement, and the crossing structures we recommend are important, we remind the reader that crossing structures are only part of the overall linkage design. To restore and maintain connectivity between any two wildland blocks, it is essential to consider the entire linkage design, including conserving the land in the linkage. Indeed, investment in a crossing structure would be futile if habitat between the crossing structure and either wildland block is lost.

Impacts of roads on wildlife

While the physical footprint of the nearly 4 million miles of roads in the United States is relatively small, the ecological footprint of the road network extends much farther. Direct effects of roads include road mortality, habitat fragmentation and loss, and reduced connectivity, and the severity of these effects depends on the ecological characteristics of a given species. Direct roadkill affects most species, with severe documented impacts on wide-ranging predators such as the cougar in southern California, the Florida panther, the ocelot, the wolf, and the Iberian lynx (Forman et al. 2003).
In a 4-year study of 15,000 km of road observations in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Rosen and Lowe (1994) found an average of at least 22.5 snakes per km per year killed due to vehicle collisions. Although we may not often think of roads as causing habitat loss, a single freeway (typical width = 50 m, including median and shoulder) crossing diagonally across a 1-mile section of land results in the loss of 4.4% of habitat area for any species that cannot live in the right-of-way. Roads cause habitat fragmentation because they break large habitat areas into small, isolated habit patches which support few individuals; these small populations lose genetic diversity and are at risk of local extinction.
In addition to these obvious effects, roads create noise and vibration that interfere with ability of reptiles, birds, and mammals to communicate, detect prey, or avoid predators. Roads also increase the spread of exotic plants, promote erosion, create barriers to fish, and pollute water sources with roadway chemicals (Forman et al. 2003). Highway lighting also has important impacts on animals (Rich and Longcore 2006).

Mitigation for roads

Wildlife crossing structures that have been used in North America and Europe to facilitate movement through landscapes fragmented by roads include wildlife overpasses & green bridges, bridges, culverts, and pipes. While many of these structures were not originally constructed with ecological connectivity in mind, many species benefit from them (Clevenger et al. 2001; Forman et al. 2003). No single crossing structure will allow all species to cross a road. For example rodents prefer to use pipes and small culverts, while bighorn prefer vegetated overpasses or open terrain below high bridges. A concrete box culvert may be readily accepted by a mountain lion or bear, but not by a deer or bighorn sheep. Small mammals, such as deer mice and voles, prefer small culverts to wildlife overpasses (McDonald & St Clair 2004).


Wildlife overpasses are most often designed to improve opportunities for large mammals to cross busy highways. Approximately 50 overpasses have been built in the world, with only 6 of these occurring in North America (Forman et al. 2003). Overpasses are typically 30 to 50 m wide, but can be as large as 200 m wide. In Banff National Park, Alberta, grizzly bears, wolves, and all ungulates (including bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and moose) prefer overpasses to underpasses, while species such as mountain lions prefer underpasses (Clevenger & Waltho 2005).


Wildlife underpasses include viaducts, bridges, culverts, and pipes, and are often designed to ensure adequate drainage beneath highways. For ungulates such as deer that prefer open crossing structures, tall, wide bridges are best. Mule deer in southern California only used underpasses below large spanning bridges (Ng et al. 2004), and the average size of underpasses used by white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania was 15 ft wide by 8 ft high (Brudin 2003). Because most small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects need vegetative cover for security, bridged undercrossings should extend to uplands beyond the scour zone of the stream, and should be high enough to allow enough light for vegetation to grow underneath. In the Netherlands, rows of stumps or branches under crossing structures have increased connectivity for smaller species crossing bridges on floodplains (Forman et al. 2003).


Drainage culverts can mitigate the effects of busy roads for small and medium sized mammals (Clevenger et al. 2001; McDonald & St Clair 2004). Culverts and concrete box structures are used by many species, including mice, shrews, foxes, rabbits, armadillos, river otters, opossums, raccoons, ground squirrels, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, black bear, great blue heron, long-tailed weasel, amphibians, lizards, snakes, and southern leopard frogs (Yanes et al. 1995; Brudin III 2003; Dodd et al. 2004; Ng et al. 2004). Black bear and mountain lion prefer less-open structures (Clevenger & Waltho 2005). In south Texas, bobcats most often used 1.85 m x 1.85 m box culverts to cross highways, preferred structures near suitable scrub habitat, and sometimes used culverts to rest and avoid high temperatures (Cain et al. 2003). Culvert usage can be enhanced by providing a natural substrate bottom, and in locations where the floor of a culvert is persistently covered with water, a concrete ledge established above water level can provide terrestrial species with a dry path through the structure (Cain et al. 2003). It is important for the lower end of the culvert to be flush with the surrounding terrain. Many culverts are built with a concrete pour-off of 8-12 inches, and others develop a pour-off lip due to scouring action of water. A sheer pour-off of several inches makes it unlikely that many small mammals, snakes, and amphibians will find or use the culvert.
Characteristics which make species vulnerable to the three major direct effects of roads (from Forman et al. 2003).
Effect of roads
Characteristics making a species vulnerable to road effectsRoad mortalityHabitat lossReduced connectivity
Attraction to road habitatx
High intrinsic mobilityx
Habitat generalistx
Multiple resource needsxx
Large area requirements/low densityxxx
Low reproductive ratexxx
Behavioral avoidance of roadsx


Based on the small but increasing number of scientific studies on wildlife use of highway crossing structures, we offer these standards and guidelines for all existing and future crossing structures intended to facilitate wildlife passage.
  1. Multiple crossing structures should be constructed at a crossing point to provide connectivity for all species likely to use a given area(Little 2003). Different species prefer different types of structures (Clevenger et al. 2001; McDonald & St Clair 2004; Clevenger & Waltho 2005; Mata et al. 2005). For deer or other ungulates, an open structure such as a bridge is crucial. For medium-sized mammals, black bear, and mountain lions, large box culverts with natural earthen substrate flooring are optimal (Evink 2002). For small mammals, pipe culverts from 0.3m—1 m in diameter are preferable (Clevenger et al. 2001; McDonald & St Clair 2004).

  1. At least one crossing structure should be located within an individual's home range. Because most reptiles, small mammals, and amphibians have small home ranges, metal or cement box culverts should be installed at intervals of 150-300 m (Clevenger et al. 2001). For ungulates (deer, pronghorn, bighorn) and large carnivores, larger crossing structures such as bridges, viaducts, or overpasses should be located no more than 1.5 km (0.94 miles) apart (Mata et al. 2005; Clevenger and Wierzchowski 2006). Inadequate size and insufficient number of crossings are two primary causes of poor use by wildlife (Ruediger 2001

  1. Suitable habitat for species should occur on both sides of the crossing structure (Ruediger 2001; Barnum 2003; Cain et al. 2003; Ng et al. 2004). This applies to both local and landscape scales. On a local scale, vegetative cover should be present near entrances to give animals security, and reduce negative effects such as lighting and noise associated with the road (Clevenger et al. 2001; McDonald & St Clair 2004). A lack of suitable habitat adjacent to culverts originally built for hydrologic function may prevent their use as potential wildlife crossing structures (Cain et al. 2003). On the landscape scale, "Crossing structures will only be as effective as the land and resource management strategies around them" (Clevenger et al. 2005). Suitable habitat must be present throughout the linkage for animals to use a crossing structure

  1. Whenever possible, suitable habitat should occur within the crossing structure. This can best be achieved by having a bridge high enough to allow enough light for vegetation to grow under the bridge, and by making sure that the bridge spans upland habitat that is not regularly scoured by floods. Where this is not possible, rows of stumps or branches under large span bridges can provide cover for smaller animals such as reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and invertebrates; regular visits are needed to replace artificial cover removed by flood. Within culverts, earthen floors are preferred by mammals and reptiles.

  1. Structures should be monitored for, and cleared of, obstructions such as detritus or silt blockages that impede movement. Small mammals, carnivores, and reptiles avoid crossing structures with significant detritus blockages (Yanes et al. 1995; Cain et al. 2003; Dodd et al. 2004). In the southwest, over half of box culverts less than 8 x 8 ft have large accumulations of branches, Russian thistle, sand, or garbage that impede animal movement (Beier, personal observation). Bridged undercrossings rarely have similar problems.

  1. Fencing should never block entrances to crossing structures, and instead should direct animals towards crossing structures (Yanes et al. 1995). In Florida, construction of a barrier wall to guide animals into a culvert system resulted in 93.5% reduction in roadkill, and also increased the total number of species using the culvert from 28 to 42 (Dodd et al. 2004). Fences, guard rails, and embankments at least 2 m high discourage animals from crossing roads (Barnum 2003; Cain et al. 2003; Malo et al. 2004). One-way ramps on roadside fencing can allow an animal to escape if it is trapped on a road (Forman et al. 2003)

  1. Raised sections of road discourage animals from crossing roads, and should be used when possible to encourage animals to use crossing structures. Clevenger et al. (2003) found that vertebrates were 93% less susceptible to road-kills on sections of road raised on embankments, compared to road segments at the natural grade of the surrounding terrain.
Manage human activity near each crossing structure. Clevenger &Waltho (2000) suggest that human use of crossing structures should be restricted and foot trails relocated away from structures intended for wildlife movement. However, a large crossing structure (viaduct or long, high bridge) should be able to accommodate both recreational and wildlife use. Furthermore, if recreational users are educated to maintain utility of the structure for wildlife, they can be allies in conserving wildlife corridors. At a minimum, nighttime human use of crossing structures should be restricted.

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