It seems that P-38 has been making the rounds and keeping busy! The male mountain lion is suspected to be the father of two new litters of mountain lion kitten discovered in the Eastern Santa Susana Mountains. The National Park Service released amazing images and video of the tiny, blue eyed cubs that are already becoming social media sensations.
The first litter of two females was tagged June 8th. Their mother, P-35 is a six year old female the Park Service has been tracking for a couple of years. The new girls will be named P-48 and P-49. The second litter belongs to a 5 year old female named P-39, which researchers have been tracking for about a year. That den, discovered on June 2, was located in a cave-like area hidden beneath huge boulder: two males and a female ( P-50, 51 and 52).
“Despite the challenges mountain lions in this area face , the animals we’ve studied appear to be reproducing successfully” said Jeff Sikich, a biologist with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. He adds that “the real challenge comes as these kittens grow older and disperse, especially the males, and have to deal with threats from other mountain lions, road mortality and the possibility of poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticide”.
Researchers located the kittens’ dens by analyzing GPS locations transmitted from the mothers’ collars. They are the tenth and eleventh litters of kittens marked by the National Park Service biologists at a den site.
And how do they know that P-38 is the daddy? Again, it’s the GPS he is tagged with. The popular male was tracked traveling and spending multiple days with P-35 and P-39 months before the kittens were born. Now, samples from the offspring will be tested for genetic readings, in order to determine paternity for sure – not that they are slated for the Jerry Springer show! All that information helps the National Park Service, which is studying mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains.
The work helps to determine the survival rate of these amazing animals in an increasingly fragmented and urbanized environment. Funding for the mountain lion research in the area is provided in part through private donations to the Santa Monica Mountains Fund.
So, best of luck to the new families, and thanks to the Park Service for these amazing images.