Three Bobcat Kittens and Their Mom Found in Large Hollow Oak Tree

A lot of Malibu residents are aware that biologists with the National Park Service (NPS) study the mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, but not everyone knows they have also been collaring and studying the local bobcats for the past 25 years.

Last Thursday, the parks service announced that a female bobcat captured and collared more than a year after the Woolsey Fire (B-370) had recently given birth to three kittens: B-379, B-380 and B-381.

The biologists tracked the mother bobcat’s radio signals to the cavity of a large oak tree on April 15, 2021—in an area that was intensely burned in the Woolsey Fire. They suspected that B-370 was “denning” because she repeatedly returned to the same spot, which usually indicates kittens in a den. However, when they arrived at the site, they had trouble locating the kittens.

“I swear she’s in this tree, but I can’t find her,” biologist Joanne Moriarty recalled saying into her hand-held radio to another biologist nearby, according to a press release from the service. “Then I look up into this little tiny hole in the tree, and her face is just poking out at me. Of course, she’s been staring at me the whole time. I just happened to be in the right spot.”   

Moriarty used a camera on a pole to peek into the tree and confirmed the presence of a bobcat and three kittens. The biologists then left the area and returned the following day while the mother was away from her den, presumably hunting.  

Using a ladder, biologists captured the kittens one by one and brought them down to be weighed, measured, given a general health check and be ear-tagged with identification before being returned to their tree cavity. The kittens were about 30 days old.

Denning in a tree is unusual, Moriarty said. She believes the mother chose that location because so much of the natural habitat in the area was destroyed in the Woolsey Fire.

Related Articles



Latest Articles

%d bloggers like this: