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Wildlife of Griffith Park

Griffith Park's three squirrels, the western gray (note white belly), the eastern fox (tawny belly), and the ground-squirrel (speckled back).

Like plants and birds, the wildlife community of Griffith Park has only recently been studied. Thanks to the observations of many hikers and local residents, we know that most of the mammals, reptiles and amphibians found around the Los Angeles Basin are still found in Griffith Park.

In addition to strongly-urban species like striped skunk and opossum, Griffith Park supports a large population of mule deer and coyote, both of which often visit backyards at the park's edge. Bobcat and gray fox are also regularly seen, but are mainly active at night, when the park is closed to visitors. Three species of squirrels (above) occur together in the park, and present an interesting example of resource partitioning. Two are native, the western gray squirrel and the more terrestrial California ground-squirrel. However, our most common squirrel, the Eastern fox squirrel, was introduced from the eastern U.S., and is now "the" squirrel throughout most of Los Angeles. Fox squirrels are found throughout the park around trees, where they construct large, messy nests of sticks and leaves. Ground-squirrels are also widespread, but require soft dirt for burrowing. Gray squirrels are somewhat local, restricted to oaks and planted pines.

Reptiles and amphibians within the park include the tiny Pacific chorus-frog, the western toad, two salamanders (Arboreal Salamander and Black-bellied Slender-Salamander), and around 10 snakes and lizards.

Presently the following two wildlife studies are active:

Study 1. Wildlife Corridor Camera Trap Survey.
Many species of large and mid-sized mammals are known to occur in Griffith Park and its surrounding area. However, little is known about how, if at all, several of these species enter and leave the park. In Los Angeles, where the landscape has been largely urbanized, blocks of relatively undisturbed habitat are connected by "movement corridors", and movement of animals is stopped by barriers, or "choke points", such as the 134 Freeway. Understanding what kinds of animals use these corridors, how they are used, and understanding more about the impacts of choke points will provide information critical to the conservation of these wildland species.

In July, 2011, thirteen cameras were deployed on both sides of Cahuenga Pass. They have recorded bobcats, coyotes, mule deer, raccoons, striped skunks, and other urban species. In late February, Dan Cooper, Miguel Ordeñana, and Erin Boydston joined together as co-equal collaborators. Dan Cooper and Miguel Ordeñana work with Cooper Ecological Monitoring, and Erin Boydston is with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The team got a big surprise when images of a mountain lion were recorded on the East side of Cahuenga Pass. Although there have been many "sightings" of mountain lions in Griffith Park, these are the first known images documenting mountain lion activity east of Cahuenga Pass. For complete information and photos, click the following link:

Mountain Lion story with original photos.

Here are links to Slideshows of recent activity captured by project cameras situated in Cahuenga Pass adjacent to the 134 Freeway.

Slide Show 1. Activity Near Mullholland Bridge. Selected photos from August 17, 2011 thru October 9, 2011.

Slide Show 2. Activity Near Westside of Ford Theater Bridge. Selected photos from August 1, 2011 thru October 5, 2011.

Slide Show 3. Activity Near Eastside of Ford Theater Bridge. Selected photos from August 1, 2011 thru October 11, 2011.

Study 2. UCLA Study of Griffith Park Bobcats.
Since 1996, National Park Service (NPS) biologists have been studying bobcats in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). In September 2010, NPS collaborator Laurel Klein extended the study to Griffith Park as part of her UCLA Ph.D. dissertation research. Click below to go to the Friends of Griffith Park Bobcat Survey page:

UCLA Griffith Park Bobcat survey

Additional information, and how to participate is available at UCLA Urban Carnvore survey website

Slide Show from the Camera Trap Study to find the mountain lion reportedly seen in Griffith Park in 2004. This camera was installed by Chief Park Ranger Albert Torres in 2004 to photograph the elusive mountain lion reported in Griffith Park. Even though the lion never showed, a lot of other wildlife did! Take a look. Click any picture to start the show.
Slide Show: Hidden wildlife camera in Griffith Park - October-December, 2004

More information and about these and other Griffith Park mammal studies will be posted as it becomes available.
Click on the following list to see printable reports:

Checklist of mammals of the Santa Monica Mtns.

Checklist of reptiles/amphibians of the Santa Monica Mtns.

Griffith Park Herptile Survey Report - February, 2010

Griffith Park Mammal/Herptile Survey Report - August, 2007

Griffith Park Mammal/Herptile Survey Report Appendices - August, 2007

Griffith Park Bat Survey - February, 2009

Griffith Park "missing" wildlife