Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
The adorable P-46 and P-47 don’t have an easy road ahead of them.
It’s not easy being a mountain lion in L.A. You’ve got freeways, rat poison, inbreeding, and interspecies competition working against your chances at survival, not to mention reproduction. So it’s impressive when kittens are born.
Serious admiration—and high-pitched squeals—are in order for a new brother-sister duo of mountain lion babies. P-46 and P-47, as they’re now known, respectively, were discovered by National Park Service biologists in the western Santa Monica Mountains in December, after GPS evidence suggested that their mother, P-19, had given birth. This is P-19’s third litter of kittens.
“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 statement.
But these little cats have a tough road ahead. Their mother will likely abandon them after 12-18 months, or what’s known as “dispersal age." From there, they’ll have to fend for themselves, and again, that’s not easy—especially on their island of habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains, cut off from other ranges by the 101 Freeway. A proposed wildlife crossing spanning the freeway could greatly boost mountain lions’ chance of survival.
For now, like their mom and other local mountain lions, P-46 and P-47 have their own GPS tracking devices. The NPS keeps tabs on the carnivores to better understand how they survive in their small and fragmented habitat—and to help protect them.
Watch a video below of the kittens in their den, and another of their mom coming home to them. Awww!