THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA.com) — National Park Service researchers have found a “kitten caboodle” – two, actually – in the Santa Susana Mountains.
A total of five kittens – three females and two males – were recently discovered in the eastern Santa Susana Mountains, a range separating the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley from the Santa Clarita Valley. They have all been eartagged and returned to their respective dens last month, park spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall said.
The first litter of kittens, females dubbed P-48 and P-49, were tagged June 8. Their mother is P-35, an approximately 6-year-old female who has been tracked by the National Park Service since April 2014. Biologists believe her previous kitten, P-44, did not survive into adulthood, Kuykendall said.
The second litter of kittens belong to P-39, an approximately 5-year-old female who has been tracked since April 2015. She gave birth to three kittens – two males known as P-50 and P-52, respectively, and a female, P-51. Biologists say the den, found on June 22, was located in a cave-like area hidden beneath large boulders.
Based on GPS locations, the kittens are all believed to have been fathered by P-38. Biologists say P-38 spent multiple days with P-35 and P-39 months before the kittens were born, and they have taken samples for genetic testing in order to officially determine their paternity.
“Despite the challenges mountain lions in this area face, the animals we’ve studied appear to be reproducing successfully,” Jeff Sikich, a biologist with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in a statement. “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.”
Kuykendall says the two new litters have brought the number marked by biologists up to 11. Two additional litters of kittens were discovered when the kittens were already at least six months old.