Necropsy results on a pregnant mountain lion killed by a vehicle in June near Calabasas showed that the animal had been exposed to multiple rat poisons.
P-54, a 5 year old mountain lion, had been under long term study by the National Park Service. Biologists have been studying different groups of mountain lions in both Ventura and Los Angeles counties since 2002 to try and determine how they manage to survive in such an urbanized area.
On June 17, a mother P-54 was killed on Las Virgenes Road between Piuma Road and Mulholland Highway. The park service reported that she was pregnant with four kittens at the time of her death.
The California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino found that the mountain lion died from multiple fractures and other traumatic injuries.
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The study also revealed that she and all four fetuses tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticides. Rodenticide poisons can travel up the food chain as animals eat poisoned rodents, resulting in uncontrolled bleeding and other issues.
In this situation, the chemicals included second-generation anticoagulants, which are more hazardous and have a longer shelf life. Last year, the state banned most applications of the second-generation poisons.
The results of the study showed that mountain lions are susceptible to rat poisons, even before they are born.
“In this case, it is also unfortunate because the death of P-54 from a vehicle resulted in the loss of four other young mountain lions, two males and two females, that were about to enter the population,” Sikich said in a statement released by the park service Wednesday.
According to the park service, 39 out of 40 local mountain lions tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticide compounds, including the four fetuses. Additionally, seven mountain lions have died directly from the poisons – which is one of the leading causes of death in this population.