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Suzanne Potter, California News Service

Photo of mountain lion: CC via Bing

October 12, 2022 (Sacramento) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill into law to require Caltrans to integrate wildlife corridors into its plans as roads are built around the state.

Collisions between drivers and wildlife are rampant - with 44,000 reported between 2016 and 2020, and likely many more that go unreported, causing injuries, deaths and property damage.

Mari Galloway, California Program Manager for Wildlands Network in Sacramento, said animals need to be able to migrate freely.

"Especially mountain lions in Southern California, their inability to move is causing genetic abnormalities and potential local extinctions," said Galloway. "But also in eastern California, we have mule deer corridors, which are being severed by some of the major highways through there."

Wildlife crossings allow animals to search farther afield for mates, which research says supports genetic diversity.

Galloway added that the endangered desert tortoise and the California tiger salamander, in particular, should also now have a much better chance to survive and thrive.

Kim Delfino, president of the group Earth Advocacy in Sacramento, said Assembly Bill 2344 guarantees that Caltrans will now make wildlife corridors a priority.

"They're going to be planning for it," said Delfino. "They're going to be incorporating it into their projects. They're going to be upgrading their Highway Design Manual. And they're going to be identifying areas across the state that are connectivity hotspots that need to be addressed."

Seven mountain lions have been found dead on or near the highways of Southern California this year.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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