Two new litters of blue-eyed mountain lion kittens were found recently in the eastern Santa Susana Mountains. The fluffy animals have different mothers, although they shared the same father, officials said.
A team from the National Park Service found five baby lions in the mountain range, three female and two male, which now connects the lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains with the Los Padres National Forest, as reported by Los Angeles Times.
The conditions in which the animals are in appear to be adequate, due to they also seem to be reproducing successfully despite the natural and human-made difficulties in the areas, including busy freeway traffic.
“The real challenge comes as these kittens grow older and disperse, especially the males, and have to deal with threats from other mountain lions and also road mortality and the possibility of poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticide,” commented Jeff Sikich, a biologist with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
The kittens were tagged by the researchers to now be able to track them, before returning them to their dens. Two female kittens were found on June 8, thanks to the GPS on her mother, identified as P-35, a 6-year-old lion tracked since 2014.
The second litter was found later on June 22, with two males and one female. The trio’s mother has been identified as P-39, a 5-year-old lion, as reported by Patch. Researchers believe the same animal fathered both litters due to P-38, the male, was tracked near the area at the possible time of conception.
However, to further investigate the possible paternity and the shared link between the little, DNA samples were taken from the kittens and the possible father to determine if there are any relation between them.
Including the latest addition to the lions’ population, there have now been 11 litters of kittens found by the National Park Service. Two of those were found by the time the lions were already six months old and not considered kittens anymore.
A challenging area
Last year, the National Park Service announced the discovery of three young mountain lions dead in the Santa Monica Mountains. The tragic incident made clear how difficult was the area for the young lions and the challenges the cats face by trying to survive in an urban area.
“If you are a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains, this is just not an easy place to grow up,” commented Seth Riley, a National Park Service wildlife ecologist. “From our roads to rat poisons to potentially increased interactions with other mountain lions, it is very difficult for young animals to make it to adulthood, establish their own home range and reproduce.”
At the time, a young female lion identified as P-34 was found dead by a runner in Point Mugu State Park. It appeared that the lion died from ingesting rat poison, even though it had superficial injuries due to a possible fight with another lion.
In another interesting finding, a National Park Service biologist found the remains of two three-month-old lions in a remote part of the easter Santa Monica Mountains. These were similar to the little ones found last month.
The tagged for one of the kittens were P-43, which had been identified when it was barely three or four weeks old, according to park officials. The other one was an unknown sibling of P-43 never identified.
According to National Park Services officials, the two little animals were eaten by another who considered them easy prey. DNA tests were conducted at the time to determine which kind of animal was the responsible. P-43’s mother had had two litters of kittens, including the one where P-43 was in, but other animals killed this.
On February, while the majority of people in the U.S. were in their houses enjoying Super Bowl Sunday, a mountain lion was caught up lounging around the Santa Monica mountains. A resident, Jerome Jacques, captured the creature at a safe distance.
Biologists at the National Park Service were able to determine who was the animal due to its particular location at the time. It was identified as P-27, a male mountain lion wandering by himself in the area.
According to Urban Carnivores, the P-27 was caught and tagged in Topanga State Park in April 2013. Apparently, it is an active animal that regularly goes through Malibu Creek State Park to the San Diego Freeway.
Researchers and experts with the animal’s behaviors assured that if anyone were to encounter with a mountain lion in the wild, and this is not exhibiting aggressive behavior, the person should back away slowly and give the cat its space.
Source: Los Angeles Times