CALIFORNIA – The Southland’s mountain lion population has recently gone up by five, all thanks to one amorous male lion, National Park Service officials stated.
A total of five mountain lion kittens — three female and two male — were discovered in two different litters last month in the eastern Santa Susana Mountains, which link the Santa Monica Mountains with the Los Padres National Forest. The kittens were indeed tagged so they can be tracked by researchers and returned to their dens.
Two female kittens were found on June 8, and their mother has been identified as P-35, a 6-year-old female lion who has been tracked by the Park Service since April 2014. The second litter was found on June 22, with two males and one female. Their mother is P-39 and is a 5-year-old female.
Park Service officials now believe both litters were fathered by the same cat, who is P-38, saying GPS tracking indicates he spent time with both mothers months before the kittens were born. DNA samples were recently taken from the kittens to confirm the paternity.
With these latest births, there have now been 11 litters of kittens found by NPS biologists in the area of den sites. Two additional litters were discovered when the kittens were already about six months old.
“Despite the challenges mountain lions in this area face, the animals we’ve studied appear to be reproducing successfully,” explains Jeff Sikich, who is a biologist with the Santa Mountain Mountains National Recreation Area.
“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.”