A California bill aimed at helping prevent collisions between vehicles and wildlife across California is set for a public hearing next month.
The bill, Assembly Bill 2344, the "Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act" would require Caltrans to identify barriers to wildlife movement before planning and designing transportation projects. The agency would work with biologists to identify areas where crossings are needed. The bill is set for a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Aug. 1.
"Unless we address this serious problem of habitat fragmentation by building more wildlife crossings, we will continue to read heartbreaking headlines of mountain lion fatalities," said Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting of endangered species, in a news release. "When state senators consider the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act next month, I hope they see the gravity of the situation and pass the bill."
The law is intended to help mountain lions, desert tortoises and California tiger salamanders, which have been cut off from their habitats by roads, freeways and development, said the Center for Biological Diversity.
More than 44,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions were reported on California roads from 2016 to 2020, resulting in human deaths, injuries and property damages, according to the UC Davis Road Ecology Center.
In recent months around the LA region, officials have reported several mountain lions killed on the road.
This week, a 2-year-old mountain lion was struck and killed on the 101 Freeway in Woodland Hills. In April, a mountain lion was killed on the 405 Freeway in Brentwood. In March, one was killed on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Officials also reported a young mountain lion who had a penchant for crossing the freeway dead in Valencia, likely killed after being hit by a vehicle.