California

There’s ‘some hope’ missing mountain lions, bobcats survived Woolsey Fire, rangers say

See an aerial view of the Woolsey Fire

This is what the Woolsey Fire in Southern California looked like on Friday, Nov. 9. As of Sunday morning, the fire has burned 83,275 acres and is 10 percent contained.
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This is what the Woolsey Fire in Southern California looked like on Friday, Nov. 9. As of Sunday morning, the fire has burned 83,275 acres and is 10 percent contained.

Southern California’s deadly Woolsey Fire isn’t just threatening humans.

The fire has ripped through the habitat of the region’s mountain lions and bobcats, which are GPS-monitored by park rangers at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Two GPS-collared mountain lions (P-74 and P-42) were missing as of Wednesday night — but another tracked animal who had been missing, P-22, has now turned up, park rangers said on Twitter. That mountain lion was found at Griffith Park and “appears to be doing fine,” rangers said.

“It looks like a moonscape environment,” National Parks spokesperson Kate Kuykendall said in an interview with KPCC, describing the scorched habitat left behind by the fire. “There’s unfortunately not a lot we can do right now, except watch all of these landscapes burning.”

Researchers have tracked dozens of Los Angeles-area mountain lions — loved by some locals, feared by others — since 2002, according to the National Parks Service. Los Angeles is the only megacity other than Mumbai where big cats and humans coexist.

Kuykendall said in the interview that P-74 has a “good, working GPS collar,” while P-22 and P-42 can only be tracked by rangers because of how their collars operate.

Park officials captured a photo of P-22 once the mountain lion had turned up.

“We still have not located the four bobcats we were tracking, despite fairly extensive efforts,” the rangers wrote in a Tweet on Wednesday. ”There are some areas we can’t access, so there’s still some hope that we’ll have better news.”

The Woolsey Fire has burned nearly 100,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties as of Thursday morning, and the blaze is 57 percent contained, according to CAL FIRE. It began on Nov. 8. Three firefighters have been injured and two civilians have died, the firefighting agency said. More than 500 structures have been destroyed, with stars like Miley Cyrus and Neil Young losing homes. Nearly 100 additional structures are damaged.

CAL FIRE said the cause of the fire is under investigation. Meanwhile, a blaze in Northern California has killed more than 50, making it the deadliest in state history.

Twitter users asked rangers if there’s any way to help wildlife in the Woolsey Fire’s path.

“The best thing is actually to leave wildlife alone. We do not recommend leaving out food and water,” park rangers advised. “If you see an injured animal, do not approach. Call a local wildlife rehab center.”

By Tuesday, the Woolsey Fire had scorched more than 80 percent of the National Park Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, leaving significant damage to facilities, trees and trails, park rangers said.

“Please, stay out of the area for your safety,” Mike Thuene, an information officer for the parks service, said in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Park rangers said in an earlier update on Monday that they could only confirm eight of the 13 radio-collared mountain lions were alive and moving.

But park rangers said not being able to immediately locate an animal — even one with a GPS collar on — is “not unusual.”

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