Two Mountain Lions Die With Rat Poison in Systems

5th large cats to die since July

By Keldine Hull

National Park Service (NPS) officials confirmed on Tuesday that two GPS tracked mountain lions, P-30 and P-53, were recently found dead in the Santa Monica Mountains. According to NPS biologists, P-30, a healthy six- year old mountain lion, died from anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning.

“On September 9, biologists hiked into Topanga State Park to look for P-30 after his radio collar sent out a mortality signal. He was found dead with no obvious signs of injury or trauma,” NPS said in a statement. “His carcass was collected and a necropsy by the California Animal Health & Food Safety (CAHFS) Laboratory field office in San Bernardino revealed that he bled to death internally. The report documented that he had severe hemorrhaging in his brain and abdominal cavity. Approximately five liters of unclotted blood was found in his abdomen.”

P-53, a four- year old female mountain lion, was too decomposed by the time biologists found her body on August 15 in Malibu to determine a cause of death. Testing, however, identified compounds of anticoagulant rodenticide in her liver.

“Just about every mountain lion we’ve tested throughout our study has had exposure to these poisons, generally multiple compounds and often at high levels”

Seth Riley, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Wildlife Branch Chief

“Just about every mountain lion we’ve tested throughout our study has had exposure to these poisons, generally multiple compounds and often at high levels,” said ecologist and Wildlife Branch Chief for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) Seth Riley in a statement. “A wide range of predators can be exposed to these toxicants – everything from hawks and owls to bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and mountain lions. Even if they don’t die directly from the anticoagulant effects, our research has shown that bobcats, for example, are suffering significant immune system impacts.”

News of P-30 and P-53’s death comes months after the loss of other large cats in the NPS study. P-38, a male mountain lion, died from a gunshot wound to the head in early July. P-61, a four- year old mountain lion, was struck and killed by a vehicle while attempting to cross the 405 freeway in September. B-363, an adult male bobcat caught earlier this year, was killed by a vehicle on Kanan Road last month.

According to the NPS, the recent deaths highlight the potentially deadly obstacles mountain lions face in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas.

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