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Mountain Lion Dies As A Result Of Rat Poison

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Although Griffith Park's majestic mountain lion P-22 survived his rat poison scare, the toxins have claimed the life of one of his distant relatives.On Tuesday, the National Park Service said that lab tests confirmed their suspicions that P-34, a juvenile female cat, died as a result of anticoagulant rodenticides. Researchers believe that the mountain lions in the region are exposed to the poisons as result of the prey they eat, including ground squirrels and the coyotes that also eat tainted prey. "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," said Dr. Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in a press release.

On September 30, P-34's body was found by a hiker in Point Mugu State Park. A necropsy showed that her chest cavity had "significant amounts of free blood," suggesting poisoning by the rodenticides, designed to kill by preventing the animal's blood from clotting.

While recent laws banned the sale of certain rat poisons to consumers, they are still legal for use by pest-control companies, and several other types are still available for sale. Scientists say the ban isn't making much of an impact. "We're still seeing nontarget exposure at pretty high levels," Stella McMillin, senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told the L.A. Times.

Last summer, researchers snapped photos of the then-8-month-old cat during happier times, enjoying a meal with her brother P-32. She later found her way under a trailer home in Ventura County and later struck a pose in Newbury Park, making for a stunning photo.

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Sadly, P-32 was also killed in August when he was hit by a car on the 5 freeway.

"If you're a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains, this is just not an easy place to grow up," said Dr. Seth Riley. "From our roads to rat poisons to potentially increased interactions with other mountains lions, it is very difficult for young animals to make it to adulthood, establish their own home range and reproduce."