Rat Poison Blamed For Death of Mountain Lion In Santa Monica Mountains; Sign Of Bigger Problem

May 1, 2019

It’s an electronic message that biologists hate to see. Something was apparently wrong with one of the mountain lions being tracked in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Seth Riley is a wildlife ecologist for the National Recreation Area. He says when they got to a central, remote part of the mountain range, they found the remains of the mountain lion known as P-47.

Tests confirmed that the mountain lion was the latest victim of rat poison which has apparently worked its way into the mountain lion food chain. Kate Kuykendall, with the National Recreation Area, says rodenticides have been found in 21 of 22 local mountain lions that have been tested.

Kuykendall says efforts have been underway to educate people about the problem, to try to get people to use alternative methods of rodent control.

One of the key parts of the effort is trying to make people aware of the problem,a dn they've launched an online education campaign.

Riley says besides the poison concern, and the issue of the big cats being hit by vehicles, perhaps the biggest issue they face is lack of habitat. They like to have their own turf, but that’s limited by development and freeways.

Biologists say one of the saddest things about P-47’s death is that his father was P-45, a mountain lion which migrated to the region from north of Highway 101. P-47 had the potential to bring some much needed genetic diversity to the Santa Monica Mountains, but the three year old cat died before he had a chance to breed.