Environment & Science

Dead Pt. Mugu mountain lion had ingested various types of rat poison, biologists say

P-34, a juvenile female researchers began following when she was only three weeks old, was found dead by a runner on a trail in Point Mugu State Park on Sept. 30.
P-34, a juvenile female researchers began following when she was only three weeks old, was found dead by a runner on a trail in Point Mugu State Park on Sept. 30.
National Park Service via Flickr

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.