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2 Lions Die After Ingesting Rat Poison In Santa Monica Mountains

Patch logo Patch 5 days ago Paige Austin
a dog lying on the ground: P-30 was a young male mountain lion that died from rat poisoning, the fifth confirmed rat poisoning death of a lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. © Courtesy of the National Park Service P-30 was a young male mountain lion that died from rat poisoning, the fifth confirmed rat poisoning death of a lion in the Santa Monica Mountains.

LOS ANGELES, CA — Two mountain lions being tracked by the National Park Service in the Santa Monica Mountains died after ingesting rat poison, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Rat poison is a common wildlife killer in the region often taking down top predators from lions and coyotes to birds of prey. National Park Service officials have now confirmed five big cat deaths caused by rat poison in the Santa Monica Mountains, but almost every cat being tracked in the region has been found to have some rodenticide in their systems.

The two mountains killed included a female and a male lion that both died in their primes. A 6-year-old male lion found dead Sept. 9 in Topanga State Park died from rat poisoning, a necropsy confirmed. Rat poison was also detected in the liver of a 4-year-old female known as P-53, whose body was found in Malibu.

Researchers said they could not conclusively say if the rat poison caused the death of P-53 because her body was too decomposed when it was found Aug. 15. However, testing found four types of rodenticide in the cat's liver. Researchers were able to get a better read on P-30's death because biologists hiked into the area after P-30's GPS collar sent out a "mortality signal." His body had "no obvious signs of injury or trauma," according to the NPS. Testing found five different anticoagulant rodenticide in his system.

The cats likely got sick after eating smaller animals animals that had eaten the poison.

"Since 2002, National Park Service researchers have documented the presence of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds in 23 our of 24 local mountain lions that they have tested, including a 3-month-old kitten," according to the NPS.

Researchers said rat poison is yet another significant threat to the survival of mountain lions in the land-locked Santa Monica Mountains range. Ingesting poison is the second most common cause of death of lions in the study area. Being struck by vehicles is the most common cause. Last month a young male lion that made history as the first collared lion to cross the 405 Freeway died while trying to cross the freeway again between Bel Air Crest Road and the Sepulveda Boulevard underpass after being stalked by an older male defending its territory. The life or death struggle was captured by a series of eerie security recordings released by the National Park Service .

A 2016 study by , performed by researchers from the National Park Service, UCLA, UC Davis and Utah State University predicted a 99.7 percent chance of extinction of the Santa Monica Mountains lions due to a myriad of threats from poisoning, cars, and lack of genetic diversity.

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a black and white photo of an animal: P-30 was a young male mountain lion that died from rat poisoning, the fifth confirmed rat poisoning death of a lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. © Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media P-30 was a young male mountain lion that died from rat poisoning, the fifth confirmed rat poisoning death of a lion in the Santa Monica Mountains.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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