Bobcat Who Survived the Woolsey Fire Gives Birth to Four Kittens

With her habitat destroyed by fire, the bobcat mother found another den to keep her litter of four safe

A young bobcat captured and collared by researchers a day before a wildfire that burned from Ventura County to the Malibu coast has given birth to four kittens.

Biologists recently found the bobcat's den in dense vegetation in a large residential backyard in Thousand Oaks, officials with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said Friday. While their mother was away, the biologists weighed, measured and tagged one male and three female kittens, all about four weeks old.

An average litter size is less than three kittens.

Their mother, B-362, was tagged the day before the start of last year's Woolsey Fire, which destroyed 1,600 structures and left three people dead.

Biologist Joanne Moriarty said in a statement that it's been a stressful time for wildlife, "but we're happy to see her thriving."

"This cat first had to deal with her habitat getting completely burned in the fire and then finding a new home in an unburned area," Moriarty said. "She chose a den in thick brush where she could keep her kittens safe."

The mother was first captured in an open space area owned by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. That area burned in the fire, forcing B-362 to relocate.

Another female bobcat being studied has remained in the burn area but hasn't reproduced. It's not likely B-360 will reproduce this year. 

Bobcat kittens typically stay in the den in which they're born for four to five weeks. After 12 weeks, they often go hunting with Mom, who generally cares for them until they're about 11 months old.

Last month, a male bobcat known as B-361 was killed by a car in Calabasas, the second most common cause of death among the population after mange, according to the National Park Service.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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