A mountain lion being tracked by National Park Service researchers in the Santa Monica Mountains was found dead, and authorities said Tuesday rat poison may have killed the cat.
According to the NPS, the lion known as P-47 was found dead March 21. Researchers found his remains after the GPS collar the lion was wearing sent out a "mortality signal."
The 3-year-old lion had no visible wounds, but liver tests determined he had been exposed to six "anticoagulant compounds," according to the park service. A necropsy showed the lion had "internal hemorrhaging in his head and lungs."
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Although it's unclear exactly how the lion ingested the poison, researchers said lions often get it in their systems when they eat smaller poison-infected animals. According to the NPS, rat poisons have been found in 21 out of 22 local mountain lions they have tested.
"It's unfortunate to see an otherwise healthy mountain lion lost from what appears to be human causes," Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in a statement. "In P-47's case, it's also a big loss because we don't believe he had yet mated and passed along his genes, which would have been valuable since he had ancestry from north of the Santa Monicas."