MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — A pair of mountain lion kittens found in the Santa Monica Mountains could signal a threat to the species locally, wildlife officials warned Friday.
KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports a male and a female kitten are the second-documented case of inbreeding in the area.
Named “Puma 23″ and “Puma 24″ — P23 and P24 for short — the brother and sister pair found in a small cave near the Circle X Ranch in Malibu were conceived when a male lion was inbreeding with one of his female offspring and appear to be in good health.
Kate Kirkendahl with the Santa Monica National Recreation Area said because the pair are inbred, there could be long-term health risks to the species locally.
“For the male lions they need to find new territory, they need to flee basically from the other larger male kittens,” said Kirkendahl. “For the females it’s a little bit easier because it’s okay if they cross paths with the male lions, of course, because the male lions are looking for mates as well.”
Mountain lions have the best chance to successfully breed if they live for over one year and manage to migrate to more open areas.
One option officials are considering is expanding wildlife corridors under the 101 Ventura Freeway so the animals will have more room to roam.
“The Liberty Canyon area off the 101 freeway is being studied right now for a possible Caltrans project to create a wildlife tunnel,” said Kirkendahl.
The kittens have been outfitted with tracking collars to monitor their progress while officials determine the next course of action.