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19-Year Bobcat Study Discovers Extreme Cuteness

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B327 sports her new ear tags | Photo: Santa Monica Mountains NRA

The most recent discoveries in a 19-year study of bobcats in the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills may not rewrite the science books, but they are hecka cute.

Meet B326 and B327, so-named for their being the 326th and 327th bobcats captured by National Park Service biologists in a long-running study of how urbanization is affecting Southern California bobcats.

The study, begun in 1996 by Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area researchers, has focused on bobcats in the Thousand Oaks-Agoura Hills area, but these little guys were found in the hills surrounding Simi Valley. Their mom, B255, has been tracked since biologists first radio-collared her in 2010; According to ranger Kate Kuykendall, biologists waited until she was away from her den to inspect and tag the nearly month-old kittens.

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B326 puts up with a dental exam | Photo: Santa Monica Mountains NRA
 

The bobkittens, both girls, were measured, weighed, and checked for overall signs of health before being put back in their den.

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The sisters blink at the weird humans. | Photo: Santa Monica Mountains NRA
 

The kittens are too small to wear GPS tracking collars, so the biologists attached ear tags to them instead. That way, researchers will at least be able to identify the kittens as they wander in front of wildlife camera traps in the months to come.

If they're lucky the kittens could live for about 15 years, but most bobcats in the wild only make it about a third that long. These little girls face a tough world. Once they leave the den, they'll face threats ranging from speeding cars and roaming dogs to a little-understood outbreak of mange apparently caused by accidental consumption of rat poisons. Bobcats are also subject to increasing pressure from fur trappers, though the state of California may be doing something about that soon.

So welcome to the world, little bobkittens, and be careful out there.

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B327 pegs the cute meter | Photo: Santa Monica Mountains NRA
 

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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