A mountain lion walking down a hill with her cubs

Courtesy of Living Habitats


Common Core: RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.4, RH.6-8.7, WHST.6-8.4, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.4, RI.6-8.7, W.6-8.4

NCSS: People, Places, and Environments • Science, Technology, and Society


A Safer Passage

This mountain lion and her cubs might appear to be strolling through their natural habitat. But take a closer look. The felines are about to enter a human-made landscape—one designed to save the lives of the endangered cats and other wildlife.

This illustration features the proposed Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing in California. Wildlife crossings are built under or over busy highways to protect animals from being hit by vehicles.

The proposed pathway in California is designed to span 10 lanes of U.S. Highway 101 in the Santa Monica Mountains, which would make it the largest wildlife crossing in the world! Construction could begin as soon as November.

Courtesy of Living Habitats

A zoomed-out view of the proposed California wildlife crossing

The U.S. is home to more than 1,000 wildlife crossings. Such corridors are designed to connect habitats that have been divided by roads, allowing animals to more easily migrate and find food, water, and mates.

In the U.S., hundreds of these pathways are in Western states, where many migratory animals, such as pronghorn antelope and mule deer, live. But the crossings are helping animals across the nation. In Florida, such pathways help protect endangered panthers—as well as alligators, bears, and other wildlife. In Vermont, crossings allow frogs and salamanders to safely travel each spring to breed.

Research shows wildlife crossings can be very successful. Indeed, one study in Colorado found that installing crossings and related protection measures led to a whopping 90 percent decrease in collisions with animals including elk, black bears, and moose.

Notice & Wonder

• What details from these images stand out to you?

• What questions do you have about them? 

• How could the crossing help the mountain lions?

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