What is a Mesocarnivore?
Mesocarnivores are the little guys, the small or medium sized carnivores that see an increase in population when the larger carnivores (coyotes, grizzlies and mountain lions) are absent. In the context of the Baldwin Hills Natural area, the mesocarnivores include both native and nonnative species that have adapted to urban and suburban habitats.
Cat (Felis catus)
The Baldwin Hills natural area is home to a substantial feral cat population. The Baldwin hills cat population is thought to be 100 times higher than the competing native predators, due to supplemental support from human food sources and a potentially low coyote population. The supplemental support facilitates assist in the dense cat population, which poses a concern for native wildlife. Several studies suggest that the cat population negatively impacts the local wildlife, and in one study the researchers discovered that the urban cats kill a vast amount of the Baldwin hills prey species.
Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
The gray fox is a small mesocarnivore that can be found across large portions of North America. Due to its behavioral plasticity and omnivorous diet the grey fox is able to survive in urban fragments. Researchers and trail cameras found gray foxes living in the Baldwin hills, with the Western portion living in the Western portion of the hills. Explanations for the increased density in the west can be attributed to the dense brush and tree habitat that seems to allow for increase protection from humans, domestic dogs and coyotes.
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
The striped skunks seem to thrive in fragmented habitats. The skunk has a flexible omnivorous diet, which consists of insects, frogs, earthworms, snails, mice, bird eggs, fruit, and garbage. For the striped skunk that Baldwin hills natural area provides a range of suitable habitat that allows the species ample resources for food and their dens. While the skunks can be found foraging in most areas of the Baldwin hills, especially the turf fields where the skunks forage for local grubs, the will den in the patches of natural habitat that provide increased protection.
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Previous research suggests that raccoon populations are highly adaptable and potentially enhanced by urban settlements. Baldwin hill researchers found substantial raccoon populations, especially in the denning habitat provided by KHSRA_1. The raccoons were also attracted to the feline feeding stations located near CC1.
Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)
New settlers to the Los Angeles basin introduced the Virginia opossum in the early 1900s. Thanks to their generalist diet, and reproductive rate by the 1940s the species became widespread throughout the state. Recent studies at the Baldwin hills found that the opossum survives throughout the area and relies on the native vegetated areas for den sites. Similar to the striped skunks the opossum has an open diet that consists of earthworms, insects, snails, fruit, bird eggs, small mammals, and garbage.