THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA.com) — Biologists have recently discovered two mountain lion kittens living in the Santa Monica Mountains, the National Park Service announced Thursday.
According to researchers, a male kitten and a female kitten — named P-46 and P-47 — were located in their well-hidden den in a remote area of the western end of the mountains.
Biologists have inserted tracking devices into the kittens in order to monitor their whereabouts.
“We continue to see successful reproduction, which indicates that the quality of the natural habitat is high for such a relatively urbanized area,” said Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “These kittens have many challenges ahead of them, from evading other mountain lions to crossing freeways and dealing with exposure to rat poison.”
Tricia Cazaz was one of dozens who showed up in Calabasas to support what could be a solution to the peril facing not just mountain lions, but other wildlife in the area as well.
“I’m actually here to find out what funding they need to get this accomplished,” Cazaz said.
“If it doesn’t get this wildlife crossing, frankly they’re [the mountain lions] going to disappear from the mountains because of inbreeding problems,” Sara Wen added.
On Thursday night, Caltrans presented their first public presentation on a proposed land bridge that would cross the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon — it would allow animals to cross the 101 without stepping on the freeway.
Caltrans is hoping to raise most of the money for the project through private fundraising but says they may need help from public funds earmarked for conservation.
The project must still be approved.
There is no timeline of when the they may start building the bridge, but Caltrans is hopeful to start the project by 2019.
According to the National Park Service, P-19 is believed to be the mother of the kittens based upon the way her GPS locations were localized during a three-week period.
Biologists said P-19 likely gave birth to her litter within the den, which is located among large boulders and thick brush.
Researchers have been tracking P-19 since 2010. She had two previous litters that were the result of inbreeding with her father, P-12.
DNA testing is underway to identify who the father of the new litter is, officials said.
According to the National Park Service, the birth of P-46 and P-47 marks the ninth litter of kittens to occur at a den site in the Santa Monica Mountains.