Here's some much-needed good news for fans of Southern California wildlife: there are two new mountain lion kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Well, maybe not kittens. The two, males dubbed P-55 and P-56, are well on their way to being full-grown. But National Park Service biologists say the pair are juveniles, relatively new additions to the Santa Monicas' top predator population.
The names come from the fact that the pair are the 55th and 56th pumas logged in the National Park Service's multi-year study of southern California's urban mountain lions.
Watch SoCal Connected's earlier coverage of pumas P-22 and P-32
The two boys were discovered in early April when they caught in biologists' humane traps earlier this month. The two captures took place in the same spot, suggesting that the pair may be siblings — unrelated male lions would be less likely to roam the same turf. The Park Service won't know for sure whether the big cats are littermates until testing is finished on DNA samples taken by biologists.
Though the discovery is a bit of welcome news after a year in which In too many SoCal lions were killed in traffic, life will be tough for P-55 and P-56.
In a post announcing the find on the Santa Monica Mountains NRA's Facebook page, National Park Service spokesperson Zach Behrens says the pair "will face the same threats as previous younger males in the mountains: a habitat fragmented by freeways and development (along with rat poison moving up the food chain) and the dominant male lions who already have staked a claim to the area."
For now, the protected land in the Santa Monicas offers some refuge for the two new lions. But until we make it easier for mountain lions to travel Southern California without the risk of becoming roadkill, the threats will remain.
In the meantime, here's some video of P-56 courtesy the National Park Service. That's a good-looking "kitten."