Los Angeles city officials voted on Friday to move forward with a discussion about creating a ‘wildlife corridor’ through the eastern Santa Monica Mountains. Such a protected zone would ensure the health and safety of the natural habitats of big cats, such as mountain lions and bobcats, which are not uncommon in that region of California. Lawmakers are also looking to place tougher restrictions on real estate developers in favor of saving urban wildlife from starvation, inbreeding, human interaction, and even death.

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The wildlife corridor concept is an attempt to protect mountain lions and other wild creatures from untimely deaths that occur when animals are forced to interact with civilization. Last summer, a mountain lion officially known as P-32 was killed while crossing the 5 freeway. Others have succumbed to rat poisoning. City officials are hoping to protect the dozen or so other mountain lions currently being tracked by the National Park Service from suffering the same fate, as well as ensure they can reproduce without inbreeding. P-22 is a beloved male mountain lion frequently spotted in Griffith Park, famous for hiding out under a house. “We want to be certain that P-22 can get around, meet P-23 and have P-24,” said City Councilman Paul Koretz, who championed the proposal.

Related: Famous mountain lion killed in Los Angeles while crossing a freeway

Although Friday’s vote was a step forward, there is a long way to go before the wildlife corridor would become reality. The city council has only officially approved that legislation be drafted, although we know that the corridor would protect the hillside areas between Griffith Park and the 405 freeway – the city is also considering a plan to stretch the protections to a broader circle. The city will include a prohibition on building or grading permits in the area until they can verify construction plans will not impede animals’ ability to move freely from one part of their habitat to another. The proposed law would also enact deed restrictions to permanently protect those through paths.

Once a bill is drafted, the city council will begin its formal review process and ultimately vote to determine whether the wildlife corridor will become a reality.

Via LA Times

Images via National Park Service