Most people probably won't look back on the summer of 2020 with great fondness, but biologists have reason to celebrate. 13 new mountain lion kittens were born to five mountain lion mothers in the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills between May and August, according to a report released today by the National Park Service. Five Dens is an 18-year record in which NPS researchers studied how mountain lions survive in the “fragmented” and “urbanized” LA environment.
The first litter discovered – male P-82 and P-83 and female P-84 born to P-54 – was found on May 14, and the last litter found – 32-day-old female kittens P-93 and P-94 born to P-80 – was discovered on August 6th.
Once the researchers find a den, they wait for the mother to either hunt or rest, and then climb on the litter to check the kittens' health and tag each one for the scientists to use Kittens can identify when they are eventually assigned radio collars.
Meet the new residents of the Santa Monica Mountains P-82, P-83, and P-84
National Park Service
Just two years after the Woolsey fire, researchers are being encouraged to monitor population growth at this rate. "That level of reproduction is a great thing, especially since half of our mountains were burned almost two years ago in the Woolsey Fire," says Jeff Sikich, a wildlife biologist who studies mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. "It will be interesting to see how these kittens use the landscape in the years to come and cope with the many natural and man-made challenges they will face as they get older and disperse."
Although expanded home safety orders have brought a number of environmental concerns, a spokesman for the NPS says it is "unlikely" to be linked between people staying home during the pandemic and the spread of wildcats .
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