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Photos: Bobcat Gives Birth to 3 Cute Babies in Calabasas

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There are hundreds, if not thousands, of bobcats in the Santa Monica Mountains. We've seen them before, jumping from tree to tree, in Sherman Oaks, but today we learn of a mother bobcat who recently gave birth to three playful (and cute!) kittens.

You'll notice that mom has a collar and some ear tags. That's because she's part of a Caltrans and National Park Service study on wildlife connectivity. She and the kittens live in Calabasas near the 101 freeway and officials want to know where and how these urban carnivores cross the artery in order to improve connections. Funding is currently suspended, but the agencies are working to recapture funds to complete the project soon.

"These kittens... along with their mother, are the animals that we would follow as part of this project if funding is restored, and they are the animals that would potentially directly benefit from increased connectivity across 101," explained an e-mail from wildlife scientists at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Last year, a mountain lion successfully crossed the 101 freeway in nearby Liberty Canyon, but two others died trying to cross the 5 and 405 freeways in the Newhall and Sepulveda passes, respectively (full info on local mountain lions).

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The bobcat births are a good sign. In 2002 and 2003, a mange epidemic killed many of them throughout the mountains, but the population seems to be making a comeback.

Bobcats are often mistaken for mountain lions, but as you'll see below, these felines are much smaller. Still, they are about double the size of a house cat. And don't worry, they mostly eat rabbits and often run away from humans (but don't try to pick them up and cuddle. That could be a bad idea).

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Graphic via the Cougar Network