Bobcat survives deadly California wildfire, has 4 kittens

This Aptil 9, 2019 photo provided by the National Park Service shows four kittens born to a young bobcat captured, collared and released a day before a massive, deadly wildfire, in a large residential backyard in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Authorities at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said Friday, April 19, 2019 that biologists recently found the bobcat's den in dense vegetation. (Ana Beatriz Cholo/National Park Service via AP)

Wildlife officials say a young bobcat captured and collared a day before a massive, deadly wildfire has given birth to four kittens

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — A young bobcat that survived a massive and deadly wildfire in Southern California last year has given birth to four kittens, wildlife officials said Friday.

Biologists recently found the bobcat's den in dense vegetation in a large residential backyard in Westlake Village just northwest of Los Angeles, according to officials with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

While their mother was away, the biologists weighed, measured and tagged one male and three female kittens. They also gave them a general health check-up.

The kittens are about four weeks old and each weigh about a 1 pound, or half a kilogram.

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. She had been captured in an area of Thousand Oaks that was gutted by the blaze.

"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 in a statement. "She chose a den in thick brush where she could keep her kittens safe."

Though last year's fires have made it a stressful time for wildlife, "we're happy to see her thriving," Moriarty said.

Another female bobcat being studied by the biologists has remained in the burn area but hasn't reproduced.

Biologists say that bobcats will keep their kittens in their dens until they're about three months old, when they'll begin following her as she hunts and goes about her day. Bobcats generally become independent at nine to 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.

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