By JAVIER ROJAS
El Sereno — Liz Gonzalez starts most mornings walking her dog across the trails of Ascot Hills Park. Yet in the three years she’s visited the 93-acre park, the thought of running into a wild bobcat never crossed her mind. That was until she heard about recent bobcat sightings reported to park officials.
“I have a small dog and honestly it makes me think twice when I start my morning walk around the park,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t even know bobcats were in the East LA area.”
According to Ray Rios, a community advisor for Ascot Hills Park, the first bobcat sighting was reported on January 29 and again on March 11. In the decade that Rios has been involved with the park, these are the first reported bobcat sightings.
“It’s usually people reporting a coyote or gopher snakes but never a bobcat,” said Rios.
Park officials have issued an advisory warning hikers and other visitors to be on the lookout and report any sightings.
As its name suggests, Ascot Hills Park is dominated by large, grassy hillsides, canyons and fields. There are few developed picnic areas, with most of the park remaining open space.
The 58-year-old Rios has heard about bobcat sightings at Ernest Debs Regional Park, about one mile away to the north across Huntington Drive. But he can’t connect how a bobcat might have ended up in Ascot Hills.
“It must have crossed Huntington and made its way up to the park,” Rios said. “Sounds crazy, but you never know.”
Miguel Ordeñana , a community science coordinator at the Natural History Museum and an expert in urban wildlife, says the likely reason a bobcat ended up at Ascot Hills Park is due to the park’s open green space.
“Places like Debs Park, Rose Hills and Ascot Park are a perfect environment for bobcats because of the ecosystem and the food resources in the area,” Ordeñana said. “People shouldn’t fear the bobcats since they’re mostly hunting for smaller prey and hide during the day away from people.”
Ordeñana says Los Angeles is the perfect area for bobcats because of all the available food resources and wide range of mobility. Griffith Park has seen countless bobcats over the years and are rarely a threat to humans in the area.
“For a bobcat to visit Ascot Hills it isn’t really a surprise to me,” Ordeñana said. “This is their home, too.”
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