Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bobcats in Silver Lake?

Bobcat in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area | Photo courtesy National Park Service/Flickr


SILVER LAKE — Earlier this month the body of a bobcat was found on the southbound 2 Freeway in northeast Silver Lake by a staff member at the Natural History Museum. What are the chances of spotting a bobcat on the Eastside? After all, they mostly roam around Hollywood Hills, Griffith Park and the foothills of northern Los Angeles County? “It is rare,” said Miguel Ordeñana, citizen science coordinator and wildlife biologist of the Natural History Museum. “There was one bobcat sighting a few years ago at the Silver Lake Reservoir, although I don’t know when exactly,” he said.

The discovery sheds new light on the types of predators that may be roaming in the hills of Silver Lake and Echo Park as well as the expanses of the L.A. River and Elysian Park. Shy, elusive, and nocturnal, bobcats are twice the size of a household cat and are solitary hunters that prey on small and large game. They adapt to new environments if adequate resources are available.

“It could be more common than we think,” Ordeñana said. “The presence of wide-ranging predators in urban areas brings value to urban parks as important wildlife habitat.”

Jessie Jennewein, an educator at the museum, found the dead bobcat found along the 2 Freeway near Corralitas Drive after it was apparently struck by a vehicle. Its body was recovered and will be used as specimen at the Natural History Museum, where it may help researchers answer questions regarding bobcats in Los Angeles.

It is difficult to determine if the bobcat attempted to cross the freeway to access the Los Angeles River or if it had left Elysian Park. Ordeñana believes that the Los Angeles River is difficult for wildlife to access, which places the wildlife in harm’s way, such as in the case of the bobcat.

“The 2 Freeway has complex interchanges that serve as a barrier for wildlife,” Ordeñana said. “The restoration of the Los Angeles River will also bring greater biodiversity to the region,” he explained. As the Los Angeles River’s ecosystem is restored, predatory animals such as the bobcat could potentially come to the Los Angeles River more frequently to hunt for prey and drink water.

Diane Edwardson, a Silver Lake activist and blogger who has been involved in environmental and land use in the area, also shared the same concern.

Finding evidence of a bobcat “is just so amazing in this highly urbanized area, but should not surprise us,” Edwardson said. She believes that the preservation of open spaces, like the Red Car Property in northeast Silver Lake, and other corridors between Griffith and Elysian Parks promote genetic diversity and help keep animals wild and safe.

As for the public’s safety, Ordeñana said that bobcats are generally harmless and pose little to no threat to domestic animals. If a bobcat is seen, he suggested to photograph it and send the image to [email protected]

“I’m glad that this is bringing attention to bobcats and urban parks,” Ordeñana said. “They deserve attention for obvious reasons.”

Cecilia Padilla Brill is a communications writer and journalist. She writes news, health, education and feature stories. Cecilia is currently working on her first novel. She has lived in Echo Park since 1999.

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  1. That should be nhm.org, not .com.

  2. I have friends who live near the Arroyo who say they frequently see bobcats in their hood. Since they eat small rodents, I encourage homeowners to keep rodenticides at bay. Let these cats do their work…!

  3. Another case for preserving the limited open space we currently have. Let’s get more of these open spaces acquired for the public good, let’s start with the Red Car Property.

  4. I don’t think Diane is “concerned” about the bobcat – we’re all used to coyotes and raccoon gangs here along the Red Car Property. Bobcats are awesome! YES to Open Space, YES to active, functioning Wildlife Corridors, YES to a Living River and YES to thriving Urban Biodiversity!

  5. I don’t know if Bobcats eat Coyotes, but if so, we definitely need more Bobcats around here. The coyote population is out of control (since LA stopped trapping them in ’94 or ’95), and there are no predators now to keep that population in control.

    +1 on the Red Car Property being acquired for public space!

  6. We have a bobcat, named Bob, who lives with us. He likes to bite and have his head petted.

  7. My husband has seen a bobcat in our yard in the early morning in Silverlake near the 2 freeway. I hope it’s not the same one now at NHM.

  8. I live in SL and we host coyotes (who, left to their own devices, don’t produce more than the space can support), raccoons, possums and those fragrant skunks. So far, no bobcats, but they’re elusive. I agree with Stephanie B. – more open space, wildlife corridors, revitalize the river and support biodiversity of flora and fauna.

  9. Creating wildlife corridors between the open space and park areas to the Los Angeles River is a core issue with restoration of the River. Likewise, acquisition of the Corralitas/Red Car property offers opportunities to begin building those corridors under the 5 Freeway. Not to mention more public space and parkland for the underserved communities adjacent to that project, and a chance for better bike routes.. .especially if the fustercluck of the 2 Freeway Terminus project is ever reactivated in a meaningful way.

  10. I just saw a bobcat in my yard on Ivanhoe Drive this morning around 8:15am. I did an internet search to confirm with a photo if that what it was and the image matches perfectly. What a big surprise!

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