Are there bobcats in Elysian Park? Wildlife experts might have once thought that was unlikely since the park was considered too small to support the animals and too far away from other places, such as Griffith Park, where bobcats were known to roam. But now the experts have changed their minds after one of the big cats was recorded on video in Elysian Park, the first photographic evidence of bobcats in the park.
The bobcat appears briefly in the video shot by Miguel Ordeñana, a citizen science coordinator and wildlife biologist at the Natural History Museum. The cat slips under a chain link fence and then disappears from view. Ordeñana did not reveal where in Elysian Park – which sprawls over more than 600 acres east of Echo Park – the bobcat was recorded.
“It is a small park for even one bobcat but the level of constant human activity (homeless camps, hikers, vehicle traffic, police training, etc.) in and around the park probably make it even less habitable,” Ordeñana said in an email. “The bobcat that I captured on my camera trap also could of just been passing through and could have left shortly after the footage was taken. However, these small cats continue to surprise us with their ability to adapt to urban areas so it is possible that two bobcats include Elysian Park as part of their territory”
The bobcat sighting in Elysian Park comes after the animals have also been seen wandering the streets of Los Feliz, roaming the backyards of Silver Lake and photographed in Debs Park. The sightings reinforce the notion that the bobcat has adapted to live and travel through a densely populated urban environment.
Ordeñana set up the camera after a dead bobcat was found next to the 2 Freeway in Silver Lake. In the Natural History Museum’s Nature blog, Ordeñana writes:
“It took a few months due to widespread human activity but eventually I captured camera trap footage of an untagged bobcat! The experience probably created more questions than answers about Elysian Park and Silver Lake bobcats, but the main lesson was clear! Neither I nor anyone else can practically search for bobcats in L.A.’s urban core without citizen science. There is too much private property to cover without the help of local residents.”
The citizen science Ordeñana refers to includes a Backyard Bobcat project, which depends on residents to submit photos and locations of the animals. The project, spearheaded by biologist Erin Boydston, could help reveal more information about bobcat population density and travel patterns, Ordeñana said.
In addition to submitting information to the Backyard Bobcat project, residents can also email photos and location information to the Natural History Museum at [email protected] or tag photos in social media with #NatureinLA.