Two new mountain lion cubs have been discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains.
P–46 and P–47, a female and a male, have been implanted with tracking devices like their mother, P–19, after their den was discovered in a remote area in the western end of the range, according to the National Park Service.
Biologists have been monitoring the local puma population closely since 2002. The animals are penned into a narrow habitat by freeways and other man-made obstacles, which has led to dangerous in-breeding. Scientists hope to learn how they survive in a heavily urbanized environment.
“We continue to see successful reproduction, which indicates that the quality of the natural habitat is high for such a relatively urbanized area,” Jeff Sikich, a biologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in a prepared statement.
P–19 had two previous litters after in-breeding with her father, P–12. Biologists are currently testing the cubs’ DNA to identify whether it’s the same father or perhaps P–45, a recently discovered adult male.
Sikich said this new batch of kittens faces many challenges, “from evading other mountain lions, to crossing freeways, to dealing with exposure to rat poison.”
Several mountain lions in the area have been harmed or killed after exposure to rat poison. Puma P–22 contracted mange, and biologists suspected it was caused by an exposure to the poison. He has since recovered. P–34 was found dead in Pt. Mugu State Park after being exposed to a variety of rat poisons.