Wildlife researchers in Sonoma County who have been tracking "clusters" of activity among mountain lions came upon a rare sighting of ten-day-old mountain lion kittens in a den last Friday. They managed to take the video above of the three kittens (only two are really visible) from a distance, and thus you don't hear any sound coming out of the kitten's mouth that appears to be meowing.
As CBS 5 reports, these were members of the Audubon Canyon Ranch mountain lion research team who sought out what they believed to be the den site near Glen Ellen belonging to an adult female mountain lion known as P1. She's believed to be about 10 years old and was collared with a GPS device last October as part of the team's research. They have also collared one of P1's adult offspring, whom they call P2.
The Audobon Canyon researchers knew where to look for the den because they had seen P1's movements clustering over time, and determined she was likely hovering around a den site.
It was essential for the team to visit and verify what was thought to be a possible den site. In order for us to better understand the health of the mountain lion population in our study area, we learn about their reproductive success, population survival, mortality and causes of mortality. Finding a den site early in the early stages provides us with a critical starting point. The team tracked the female P1 to ensure she was nowhere near the cluster and when it was determined that she was a considerable distance from the site, the team went in to investigate. Knowing what to look for, they found the kittens very quickly and documented them by camera, leaving the site all within 10 minutes. The kittens were not touched or handled at all.
The team now plans to monitor the site over the next few months, and will not make any physical contact with the kittens until they have reached adulthood and separated from their mother, at which point they might be collared as well. The researchers are keen to see how the kittens fare (mortality rates for infant mountain lions are around 50% in the wild), and to monitor the success of this local population overall.
But just look at how cute they are!!