Hang on to your ball of yarn, because these photos of mountain lion cubs with a deer carcass are better than any funny cat videos, LOLcats or funniest pet videos you’ll see.
Because mountain lion cubs doing their thing in nature, and with mother mountain lion nearby protecting her crew, is better than make-believe. Nature’s way cooler than fiction.
Officials with the Malibu Creek State Park, part of the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California, put out a game camera that captured about 350 photos of the mountain lions. The park is north of Los Angeles.
Hunting mountain lions is prohibited in California. Despite a large population that is growing, and not just in rural areas away from populated cities, they’re protected. So when you have verified mountain lion attacks along with other reports of them coming close to hunters, stalking hikers, possibly attacking a homeless man, and showing up on game cameras, it’s not too surprising.
The rugged coastal mountains offer some great habitat for the big cats, though, so hearing about them showing up on a game camera is pretty cool.
Mountain lions are also known as the cougar, puma, panther, “painter,” mountain cat or catamount. They live from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America and eastward through the Southeast down to southern Florida. Although sightings are rare in the Southeast and Southwest, with many state agencies chalking up sightings to released cats, they are known to occur.
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More sightings have been made in the Midwest in recent years, too, with many believing they big animals are expanding their range slowly but surely. They were extirpated in many Southeast states decades ago before state wildlife agencies prohibited hunting them or added them to protective non-game species lists.
The National Park Service has been tracking and studying the mountain lions in the state park and the Santa Monica Mountains for about 12 years. They’ve tracked more than 30 through photos and GPS collars, along with other reports. Due to the amount of habitat and mule deer, the big cats are doing well
However, the park and mountains create potential problems with inbreeding due to being landlocked by water and highways. Basically, the cats are contained. So although these cute kittens with big pointy teeth and flesh-ripping claws are, well, pretty cute, they may not be as genetically diverse as needed to help future generations. Biologists see similar problems with the Florida panther, too. Lack of genetic diversity is a bad thing in the animal kingdom.