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Two Mountain Lion Kittens Abandoned Last Year By Mother Died From Rodenticide Poisoning

A blondish brown mountain lion is caught in a picture just as it's about to walk out of the frame, its face close, one brown eye wide with its pupil enlarged to adjust for the dark of night.
Mountain lion P-32.
(Courtesy National Park Service)
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Two mountain lion kittens who died in the care of the National Park Service after being abandoned by their mother tested positive for rodenticide poisoning, according to officials.

The two collared kittens, P-100 and P-102, are the youngest to test positive for the poisons since the National Park Service launched its study of cougar populations in the Santa Monica Mountains two decades ago.

The kittens were among four spotted under a picnic table late last year near an office building in Thousand Oaks. National Park Service officials initially hoped the kittens' mother would return. When she did not, park workers gave the kittens fluids, placed collar tracking devices, and set up camera monitors to watch for the mother.

Ultimately, they took the kittens into their care and two of them, P-100 and P-102 died Dec. 21. Two others, known as P-101 and P-103, were taken to a veterinary hospital in Orange County. They're now being cared for at the Orange County Zoo in Irvine.

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Rodenticides, which are found everywhere from residential homes to agriculture operations, prevent blood from coagulating.

Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the National Park Service, said the department has found poisoned mountain lions dead from internal bleeding.

“The animal is just laying there out in the middle of the park as if it just keeled over and dropped dead,” he said. “They're not on a road, there's no signs of trauma or injury."

Rodenticide is one of the leading causes of death among the cougars in the study, along with vehicle collisions and interspecies fighting.

In addition to the rodenticide, a news release reported:

Postmortem examination found both kittens to be emaciated, with a heavy flea infestation. Microscopic examination of their tissues revealed inflammation in their brain as well, and the detection of feline parvovirus in numerous tissues.
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