Federal wildlife biologists have confirmed that a mountain lion found dead in September in the Santa Monica Mountains had been exposed to a variety of rat poisons.
The cougar known as P-34 was found dead in Point Mugu State Park by a hiker. Lab results found the adolescent female had ingested two types of rat poison -- one of which is still widely available in retail stores. Researchers think she ate either animals like squirrels that ingested the poison themselves or a coyote or bobcat that might have eaten those animals.
So-called second-generation rodenticides speed internal bleeding in animals. They have been banned for purchase by consumers, though licensed exterminators can still buy them. First-generation poisons are still available for sale to everyone.
P-34's is the third mountain lion death that researchers have linked to rat poison. The National Park Service has been studying cougars in and around the Santa Monica Mountains since 2002.
“This is the latest indication that local wildlife continues to be exposed to these rodent poisons,” said Dr. Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “We hope that P-34’s death will continue to raise awareness about how anticoagulant rodenticides work their way up the food chain, often with deadly effects.”
Below are tips the park service has compiled to control rats without poisons.
- Remove food and possible hiding places that attract rodents
- Use snap or electric traps to catch rodents
- Prevent rodents access to fruit and nut trees
- Prevent access to vegetable gardens
- Clean up and seal off domestic animal food
- Seal trash cans
- Seal off compost piles
- Clean BBQ grills after using
- Seal up holes and cracks into homes, attics, crawl spaces, garages and sheds
- Clean up wood, brush and junk piles that provide shelter to rodents
- Remove thick vegetation specifically ivy
- Remove tree limbs within three feet from roofs
- If you’re rodent problem is too big for you to control, contact a pest-control company that uses sustainable practices. Pest control companies that practice Integrated Pest Management should be able to help you get to the root of the problem.