CHATSWORTH (CNS) - Three more mountain lions are living in our midst Thursday, with National Park Service officials confirming the recent births of three kittens spotted in the Simi Hills between the Santa Monica and Santa Susana mountains.
The female kittens, born to a mountain lion dubbed P-77, were discovered May 18 by biologists taking part in a decades-long study of lions in the Southland mountains, NPS officials said. All three kittens were determined to be 24 days old when then were discovered, based on when their mother -- who is outfitted with a radio collar -- first arrived at the location, according to the park service.
All three kittens appeared to be in good health, and they have been dubbed P-113, P-114 and P-115.
"It will be interesting to learn how these kittens will use the landscape once they get older and disperse, particularly if they decide to stay in the Simi Hills or cross freeways to enter larger natural areas," Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist of the NPS mountain lion study, said in a statement. "It's encouraging to see reproduction in our small population of mountain lions, especially after all the mortalities we have documented in the last year."
NPS officials said the kittens' father is unknown, since researchers are not aware of any adult male lions in the area between the Ventura (101) and Ronald Reagan (118) freeways. The father likely roamed in from the Santa Susana Mountains and later returned.
The last two adult males who were regularly spotted in the Simi Hills were P-64, who died in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, and P-38, who was killed by poachers in 2019, officials said.
P-77 has been residing in the area west of Chatsworth and West Hills since first being captured in November 2019. The cat is believed to be between 5 and 6 years old, and is also believed to have had a previous litter of kittens.
According to researchers, P-77 has previously managed to cross both the 101 and 118 freeways, spending time in both the Santa Susana and Santa Monica mountain ranges.
The three new kittens were all outfitted with colored ear tags so they can be identified later when they are spotted on remote cameras or eventually recaptured to be fitted with radio collars.