SIMI HILLS (CBSLA) – Four mountain lion cubs have been discovered on a former nuclear testing site in Simi Hills.
The litter of four females were found in a den June 11 on the shuttered Santa Susana Field Laboratory site, which spans more than 2,600 acres and is currently owned by Boeing, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Their mother is P-62, who National Park Service researchers have been tracking since January. Researchers had to wait until P-62 temporarily left the den in order to visit it and confirm the kittens were inside.
All four, blue-eyed spotted cubs are about four-and-a-half weeks old and weigh around 4 to 5 pounds. They have been marked with GPS ear tags in order to monitor their movements. They are now known as P-66, P-67, P-68, and P-69.
Santa Susana, which was acquired by Boeing in 1996, was used over the course of 50 years to test rocket engines, nuclear reactors and liquid metals. There was a partial nuclear reactor meltdown in 1959 on the site that released an unknown amount of radioactive substances into the ground and atmosphere.
The region’s freeway network and shrinking habitat has served to isolate the mountain lion population in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains, biologists say. Eighteen mountain lions have been killed on a freeway or road in the area since 2002, according to NPS officials. The latest mountain lion killed was P-23, who died after being struck by a car in January on Malibu Canyon Road.
Caltrans has proposed building a wildlife bridge across the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills that would allow animals to travel between the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills.
The NPS has been studying mountain lion movements in the Santa Monica Mountains since 2002 using GPS collars.