THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA) – Biologists believe a mountain lion found dead last month in the Santa Monica Mountains likely died of rat poison.
The National Park Service reported Tuesday that lab results determined that P-47, whose remains were found March 21, likely died of anticoagulant rodenticide, also known as rat poison.
Tests on his liver determined that the 150-pound three-year-old had been exposed to six different types of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds, NPS reports. A necropsy by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab found internal hemorrhaging to his head and lungs.
Last December, a mountain lion named P-64 survived the Woolsey Fire only to die a few weeks later. Like P-47, tests also revealed he had six different types of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds in his system.
Of 22 local mountain lions tested in the Santa Monica Mountains, 21 have showed the presence of rat poison in their systems, NPS reports. Those include a 3-month-old kitten.
“It’s unfortunate to see an otherwise healthy mountain lion lost from what appears to be human causes,” said Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in a statement. “In P-47’s case, it’s also a big loss because we don’t believe he had yet mated and passed along his genes, which would have been valuable since he had ancestry from north of the Santa Monicas.”
In February, NPS biologists became concerned after discovering a case of skin disease in P-53 — a female mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains — which could be linked to rat poison. According to NPS, mange is rare among mountain lions. Since 2002, only five mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains have contracted mange. Two of them, P-3 and P-4, died of rat poisoning.
Due to issues such as habitat loss and isolation caused by the region’s growing freeway network, mountain lions in the Southland are facing growing challenges to their survival. A study last month determined that mountain lions in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana mountains could go extinct within the next 50 years.