Santa Monica Mountains see summer of mountain lion kittens

mountain lion litter_nps.jpg
Posted at 3:27 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 18:27:06-04

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KGTV) — National Park Service biologists say they're seeing a boom in mountain lion births this summer in the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills areas.

Between May and August, researchers have seen 13 total kittens born to five mountain lion mothers.

This is the first time this many mountain lion dens have been found in such a short time period during the 18-year study, according to the National Park Service. A total of 21 litters of kittens have been marked at the den site.

Previously, the most dens found in one year for the study was four in 2015.

"This level of reproduction is a great thing to see, especially since half of our mountains burned almost two years ago during the Woolsey Fire," said Jeff Sikich, a wildlife biologist who has been studying the mountain lion population at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. "It will be interesting to see how these kittens use the landscape in the coming years and navigate the many challenges, both natural and human-caused, they will face as they grow older and disperse."

Since 2002, NPS has been studying mountain lions around the Santa Monica Mountains to determine how they survive in a fragmented and urbanized environment.

To track the mountain lions, researchers wait until the mother leaves to hunt or feed. While researchers are tracking her movements, other researchers will approach the den to catalog the kittens and place a unique tag on the ear of each animal. These tags help researchers identify them in the future.