The Kenwood Press|
Mountain lion kittens born in Trione-Annadel
Conservation biologists from Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR) recently disclosed that two mountain lion kittens were born at Trione-Annadel State Park in early February to a female mountain lion being tracked by ACR’s Living with Lions research study.
This marks the first litter delivered by the 3.5-year-old mama cat (named P11 for the study), who in September was captured and fitted with a GPS-tracking collar just outside the park’s boundary.
“This news underscores the critical importance of Trione-Annadel State Park’s habitat for local wildlife populations. In managing our state parks, we strive every day to balance preservation of natural resources with recreational access,” said Cyndy Shafer, natural resource program manager for the Bay Area District.
In general, mountain lion kittens have a 50 percent mortality rate prior to dispersing from mom at around 12-16 months. However, of Sonoma County lions tracked by Living with Lions, the odds of survival are considerably lower. Quinton Martins, director of the program, remains hopeful about their outcome. “These young cats hold the health of our shared landscape in their DNA. We look forward to sharing their story in coming months and connecting our greater community to their important role as a top carnivore,” said Martins.
For now, these tiny kittens, who were estimated to be about 10 days old when they were located by Martins, will be moved by mom periodically until they can hit the trail with her, learning big cat skills over the course of the next year. The hunting responsibilities for the trio rest on this new mom, who will kill a deer, her preferred prey, on average two times a week until the kittens are grown.
“We are proud to be a part of the Living with Lions project, and support research and education on these important predators in our ecosystems. Park visitors should always stay on designated park trails, for their own safety as well as the safety of the animals that we share this special place with,” added Shafer.