For the next three to four months, UCLA researchers will be conducting a study of bobcats in Griffith Park. The study will involve live trapping of bobcats at relatively hidden, remote spots of the park. When captured, the cat will be anesthetized, blood sample drawn, and ear tagged for later identification. Then the cat will be released.
A bobcat in Brush Canyon, above the Oaks
A general decline in bobcat population has been associated with mange epizootic within some local urban areas. Animals that have died of mange, an ectoparastic mite disease, have been found to also be exposed to anticoagulant rat poisons. Bobcats are likely exposed to these rat poisons through their small mammal prey. Mange is an unusual disease to affect wild cats, and is generally suggestive of an immune compromised state. The goal of this work is understand how anticoagulant rodenticide exposure may increase susceptibility of individuals to severe mange and potentially other feline diseases.
In addition to studying bobcats within Griffith Park, a broader objective of this study includes sampling across the Santa Monica Mountains in both urban and more pristine areas. This research is collaboration between the National Park Service (NPS), United States Geological Survey (USGS) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Necessary permits are in place with the California Department of Fish and Game and UCLA Animal Research Committee. The Department of Recreation and Parks appreciates the importance of this work and is cooperating to fulfill the scientific goals.
Lots more information about the study, bobcats in general, the Santa Monica Mountains and Anticoagulant Rodenticides (rodent-killing chemicals that prevent normal blood clotting) is available at this website, set up by UCLA reasearcher Laurel Klein.
If any Griffith Park hikers should see one of these traps, be assured they are for official use. Also, it is important that they not be disturbed. Please pass the word around.