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