Bobcat Visits Northeast L.A. Park, Wildlife Cameras Capture First-Ever Photo Evidence

The Debs Park bobcat | Photo: Courtesy Miguel Ordeñana

A wildlife researcher has obtained the first-ever photographic evidence of a bobcat in a park in the Montecito Heights area of Northeast L.A., underscoring the importance of open space and wildlife corridors even in the heart of California's largest city.

Miguel Ordeñana, am Angeleno predator biologist who's also worked to document and study Griffith Park's mountain lion, caught a photo of a bobcat in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in the Monterey Hills in early January.

Ordeñana, who works with the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, writes on his blog that staff at the Audubon Center in Debs Park had seen a bobcat just before he deployed his camera traps, but that they hadn't been able to get photos of the cat. "[I]t was my very first visit to Debs Park, which made it unfamiliar territory," Ordeñana writes. "Thanks to a combination of careful placement and luck, I got bobcat pictures on all three camera traps that I set up throughout the park."

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Debs Park sits astride the Monterey Hills, which divide the L.A. River basin from the San Gabriel Valley to the east. The park is adjacent to Arroyo Seco, which despite being channelized and encumbered with the Pasadena Freeway, still potentially serves as a wildlife corridor between downtown and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Ordeñana says his confirmation that bobcats can get to Debs Park shows that we need to pay more attention to small urban parks as wildlife habitat. Though Debs Park is only a bout a third the size of a typical male bobcat's territory, says Ordeñana, his photo "validates the preservation of small fragments of habitat that historically have been disregarded as valuable carnivore habitat, especially if they are possibly linked to larger wildernesses."

Plus, says Ordeñana, the presence of the cat in a relatively crowded, less-affluent section of L.A. offers opportunities to bring an underserved community and wildlife advocacy into a closer relationship. "Opportunities to connect park poor and under-served communities with nature are limited," he writes, "so let's make the best of it!"

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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