THOUSAND OAKS, Calif: Four new mountain lion kittens have been found by researchers studying the wild cats living in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said Tuesday that the four female kittens are about 5 weeks old.
Video posted on Twitter showed the blue-eyed, spotted kittens meowing underneath a crevice while their mother was away.
One even hisses and swipes at the researcher filming.
They’re the first litter of kittens found in the Simi Hills, a small area of habitat between the Santa Monica and Santa Susana mountain ranges north of Los Angeles.
Researchers have added the four kittens to their ongoing study of mountain lions in the area.
They’ve taken tissue samples, conducted a general health check and marked the kittens with ear tag which will allow them to keep track of their movements as they grow up.
It’s the 15th den the researchers have marked as part of their study of mountain lions in the region.
Biologists have been studying the cougars to determine how they survive in fragmented wilderness amid metropolitan sprawl. Each member of the species, especially males, requires a very large home territory, and young cats face difficulties dispersing.
Jeff Sikich, biologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said the spot where the kittens were found in the Simi Hills is “a critical habitat linkage between the Santa Monica Mountains and larger natural areas to the north.”
“We are very interested to learn about how they will navigate the fragmented landscape and whether they will remain in the Simi Hills or eventually cross one or more freeways to the north or south,” he said.
Except for the kittens’ mother, researchers say every mountain lion they’ve tracked in the Simi Hills has crossed either the 101 freeway to the south or State Route 118 to the north.
Since 2002, 18 mountain lions have been killed on freeways and roads in the region, most recently a 5-year-old female earlier this year.
The area’s most well-known mountain lion, P-22, has become famous for having somehow crossed freeways to take up residence in sprawling Griffith Park in the middle of Los Angeles.—AP