Bobcats in Silver Lake?

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

By CECILIA PADILLA-BRILL

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 nature@nhm.org.

“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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