Environment & Science

Rat poison killed Southern California mountain lion P-41

File: P-41, a 130-pound male mountain lion.
File: P-41, a 130-pound male mountain lion.
National Parks Service via Flickr

Authorities say a mountain lion that managed to cross a Southern California freeway and make its home in the mountains north of Los Angeles had rat poison in his system when he was found dead.

The lion, dubbed P-41, was found in October, shortly after a wildfire burned part of his range. Researchers at first wondered if the fire contributed to his death.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area announced Tuesday that P-41 had six compounds of a rodenticide in his system - although it's unclear if that caused his death.

Researchers say P-41 may have eaten a squirrel or other animal that ingested the poison, or snacked on a coyote or other predator that ate tainted prey.

The National Park Service has found poison compounds in 14 local cougars, including a kitten.

Here's how rat poison works its way up the food chain:

How rat poison enters the local food chain.
How rat poison enters the local food chain.
National Park Service