2017-03-10 / Front Page

Mountain lion cubs discovered in Simi Hills

By Melissa Simon


NEW LIFE—A camera monitoring an undeveloped portion of the southern hills of Simi Valley captured video footage of two mountain lion cubs—one in the foreground, the other in the background—near a watering hole with their mother. 
Courtesy of Boeing Co. NEW LIFE—A camera monitoring an undeveloped portion of the southern hills of Simi Valley captured video footage of two mountain lion cubs—one in the foreground, the other in the background—near a watering hole with their mother. Courtesy of Boeing Co. Two new mountain lion cubs have been discovered in an undeveloped portion of the Santa Susana Field Lab in the southern hills of Simi Valley.

A camera monitoring the area captured video footage Jan. 31 of the two kittens playing near a watering hole where wildlife often comes, said Megan Hilfer, spokesperson for Boeing Co., which owns the “southern buffer zone” of the field lab.

The southern and northern buffer areas are large swaths of undeveloped land that make up about 1,300 acres of the total 2,850-acre site.

Hilfer said recent footage captured in the southern buffer zone has shown a lot of mountain lion activity lately.

“Last fall, two mountain lions were seen together, and the (National Park Service) told us it was probably a mother and an (older) cub. Then to see the new cubs in January was just the icing on the cake,” she said. “When we passed the video of the new cubs on to the NPS, they were really excited and told us they’d never had any evidence of kittens in the Simi Hills before.”

Kate Kuykendall, NPS spokesperson, confirmed that the two kittens are the youngest the agency has ever seen in the Simi Hills. She said older cubs have been seen in the same area in the past.

“Because they were older it’s possible they were born north of the 118 (Freeway) and traveled to the Simi Hills. But these kittens (discovered in January) are much younger, so it suggests they were actually born there,” she said.

While NPS does not have any official plans to track the new kittens, Kuykendall said, the agency would “definitely be interested in doing so” in the future because park officials are always interested to learn more about mountain lions in the Simi Hills, especially kittens.

In the past, NPS captured a male mountain lion, named P-12, in the Simi Hills.

“He ended up crossing the 101 Freeway and making his home in the Santa Monica Mountains, so animals in that (southern buffer zone) area are potentially very interesting,” Kuykendall said.

It is unknown whether the kittens discovered in January are related to the family of mountain lions that were recently killed on the 118 Freeway. The adult female known as P-39 was struck and killed by a vehicle Dec. 3 near the Rocky Peak exit. Two of her three kittens, P-52 and P-51, were also struck and killed on the same stretch of highway Dec. 20 and Jan. 14, respectively.

“P-39 spent the majority of her time north of the 118 (Freeway) in the Santa Monica Mountains, so that was a slightly different area, but certainly not very far away,” Kuykendall said.

The status of the P-39’s third kitten, P-50, is unknown.

“We haven’t had any additional information since P-50 was about 4 weeks of age and was ear-tagged,” she said. “It is possible that he may not have even survived until the time when his mom was killed. But we just don’t know.”

Kuykendall said mountain lions in the region face significant challenges to survive.

Freeways and development keep the animals isolated from surrounding natural areas. A study conducted by NPS, UCLA, UC Davis and Utah State University last year found that local mountain lions may go extinct within 50 years.

“But they do appear to be reproducing successfully, and this (discovery) is another reminder of that,” she said.

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