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4 adorable baby bobcats born to wildcat mom who survived Woolsey fire

Researchers found the new mother bobcat not far from her burned-out habitat in the Hillcrest Open Space Preserve, west of Westlake Boulevard. 

A small, furry Woolsey fire survivor has just become a new mom.

Bobcat 362, who was captured and collared just a day before the Woolsey fire broke out in November and whose home was destroyed by the flames, has given birth to four kittens, National Park Service officials announced Friday.

Researchers found the new mother not far from her burned-out habitat in the Hillcrest Open Space Preserve, west of Westlake Boulevard. She had made herself comfortable in an area of dense vegetation in the backyard of a Westlake Village home, according to officials with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

“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,” biologist Joanne Moriarty said. “She chose a den in thick brush where she could keep her kittens safe. … We’re happy to see her thriving despite the challenges.”

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The mother’s little miracles — dubbed B-364, B-365, B-366 and B-367 — are about 4 weeks old.

Park officials said the male kitten is the “runt” of the litter, the smallest in size and weight, and tips the scales at less than a pound. The biggest kitten weighs 1.5 pounds.

As part of their 23-year-long bobcat study, researchers trap the cats between October and February of each year in the areas from Cheeseboro Canyon to Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks and south of the 101 Freeway in Liberty Canyon.

For this trapping season, seven bobcats were captured, tagged and collared before the late winter, when female bobcats give birth and care for their young.

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It was a successful endeavor for the biologists, who faced many challenges this season — from the destructive Woolsey fire that burned more than 96,000 acres of land and displaced the wild cats to an unusually rainy winter and a government shutdown, officials said.

One other female bobcat captured as part of the study, B-360, still lives in the burn area and hasn’t had any babies. Park officials said she likely won’t reproduce this year, but it’s still early in the season.

alejandra.reyesvelarde@latimes.com

Twitter: @r_valejandra


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