National Park Service Captures 300th Bobcat
Dead Mountain Lion Was Exposed to Rodenticides
Cause of death for Santa Monica mountain lion remains unknown
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Necropsy results from the mountain lion found dead by hikers last month in the Santa Monica Mountains were inconclusive, but did indicate rodenticide exposure. Because the carcass was partially decomposed, the actual cause of death cannot be determined.
“Unfortunately we’ll never know exactly why this animal died,” said Dr. Seth Riley, an expert on urban wildlife with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). “Mountain lions in this region face a number of challenges to survive and rodenticide exposure is certainly a common – and entirely preventable – health risk for local wildlife.”
Laboratory tests conducted by the California Animal Health and Food SafetyLaboratory and the University of California at Davis detected exposure to two anticoagulant compounds commonly found in rodenticides, though at relatively low levels. Anticoagulants lead to uncontrolled bleeding and have been confirmed as the cause of death for two other mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains during the last ten years. The exposure occurs indirectly, such as when the lions eat animals that have eaten the poison.
The death did not appear to be the result of a conflict with another lion, the leading cause of death among the 26 lions studied by National Park Service biologists over the last decade. The relatively young animal was not emaciated and did not seem to suffer from a lack of nutrition. Plague, which has been found in other mountain lion populations outside of the state, was also ruled out as a possible cause of death.
Puma-25, as the animal was known, was approximately one year old at the time of her death and had been traveling with her mother and brother.
More information about the harmful effects of anticoagulant rodenticides, as well as suggested alternatives, can be found here.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. It comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities.
Research News and NPS Press Release:Hikers Find Dead Mountain Lion in Santa Monica Mountains
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Hikers reported a dead mountain lion near Newbury Park in Point Mugu State Park on Sunday. A National Park Service biologist identified the carcass as Puma-25, a female lion approximately one year old, and transferred the remains to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for necropsy.
“Mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains face a number of challenges to survive,” said Dr. Seth Riley, an expert on urban wildlife with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). “In addition to conflicts with other lions over territory, lions here have to contend with road mortalities, rodenticide poisoning and occasionally disease.”
Although the results of the necropsy will not be available for a few weeks, the death did not appear to be the result of a conflict with another lion. The carcass showed some signs of decomposition. Biologists suspect the lion had been dead for about one week.
P-25, as the animal is also known, was first discovered in remote camera photographs as one of two kittens. Along with her brother, P-26, the lion was the offspring of P-12 and P-13 and was fitted with an expandable GPS collar in August. Expandable collars are designed to grow with the lion, but when P-25’s collar recently came off, researchers were only able to track her by monitoring the location of her mother and brother, who she was presumed to be traveling with.
A small group of hikers noticed a bad odor on Sunday and hiked a short distance from the trail to investigate. They discovered the dead mountain lion and reported it to a National Park Service ranger at Satwiwa Native American Culture Center in Newbury Park.
Biologists from SMMNRA, a unit of the National Park Service, are currently tracking eight mountain lions as part of a decade-long study to better understand how the animals survive in such an urbanized landscape. Among the 26 mountain lions tracked during the course of the study, the number one cause of death has been conflict with other mountain lions, followed by an equal number of deaths from rodenticide poisoning and vehicle collisions.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. It comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. Learn more at www.nps.gov/samo.
August 2012: Two new mountain lions were captured on August 2, 2012, south of Westlake in the Santa Monica Mountains. As of August 2, they were both around 9 months old and are the offspring of female mountain lion, P13. P25 is female while P26 is male. Genetic analysis to determine which male mountain lion is the father of P25 and P26 is pending at the Robert Wayne lab at UCLA. National Park Service biologists first learned about these to young mountain lions using remote wildlife cameras set around the Santa Monicas to monitor wildlife. P13, one of the radiocollared female mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, was captured on camera with 2 kittens last Februrary! Now, at 9 months of age, the two young mountain lions were old enough to radiocollar, and are now being tracked by National Park Service biologists. At the time of their capture in August, they weren't yet completely independent of their mom, P13. However, they are approaching the age of dispersal (approximately 1.5years) to establish their own homeranges. Now, with their new radiocollars, NPS biologists will be able to follow their movements and learn when and where they try to establish their own territories.
Update on Mountain Lion Killed in Santa Monica on May 22: Genetic analysis performed in the Robert Wayne lab at UCLA shows that the mountain lion killed in Santa Monica shares genetic traits with mountain lions from the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills. What this tells us is that this mountain lion originated from the mountains around LA. P12, one of the mountain lions collared by the National Park Service several years ago may have been the father of the Santa Monica mountain lion. P12 is the only mountain lion that NPS biologists have documented to cross the 101-freeway, and in doing so, he has contributed unique genetic variation to the Santa Monica Mountains mountain lion population that lacks genetic diversity. The mountain lion kill in Santa Monica in May also possessed unique genetic variation that he may have inherited from P12. The mountain lion killed in Santa Monica could have contributed unique genes to the genetically homogenous Santa Monica Mountains mountain lion population. See the NPS press release here.
May 22, 2012: Today's news about the mountain lion shot in Santa Monica is tragic and unfortunate. The individual was a young male. He likely originated from the eastern portion of the Santa Monica Mountains and was looking for a safe area to disperse to and establish his own home range. We have obtained tissue samples that we will use for genetic analysis in the Robert Wayne lab at UCLA to establish whether he originated from the Santa Monicas and learn which other mountain lions in the Santa Monicas he may have been related. Jeff Sikich with the National Park Service was able to obtain the tissue sample, and while there, established that the mountain lion did appear to a wild mountain lion (rather than a captive mountain lion that wandered astray). More info can be found in the Associated Press article here.
March 15, 2012: California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has requested access to our data while they review the State's policy on second generation anticoagulant rodenticides. These are the poisons we feel are of particular concern for our local predatory wildlife. Compounds of particular concern to DPR are brodifacoum and bromadiolone. We sent our all of our bobcat anticoagulant exposure data to them this morning . This includes the results of 267 anticoagulant tests we've conducted on bobcat blood and liver samples.
Want to help? Sponsor an anticoagulant survey ($100/test)! We presently have run out of funding to support our anticoagulant exposure testing. Our data are being used to inform State agencies about which the harms these poisons pose and may help change the State's policy on the availability of these poisons!
March 8, 2012: B262, initially captured in Griffith Park, was found dead with severe notoedric mange in Stone Canyon Reservoir in Bel Air by a DWP engineer and reported to Laurel Serieys. Laurel was able to recover the body and confirm the identity of the individual from his ear tags that were still in place. His circumstance of dying in Stone Canyon area is slightly unusual because he was initially captured 8 miles east (as the crow flies), across the 101-freeway. He was a young male when captured in October, 2010 and therefore, he likely dispersed out of Griffith Park into a new territory to establish his own home range. He crossed the 101-freeway to enter the Hollywood Hills and make his way to Bel Air, where he was found dead. Another interesting aspect of his death is that he died of notoedric mange. We have not documented notoedric mange in Griffith Park, but this illustrates that Griffith Park bobcats are susceptible to severe cases of the disease. Unfortunately, his body was too decomposed to recover samples for anticoagulant testing.
Mountain lion kittens! February, 2012: Female mountain lion P13 has been discovered to be caring for two plump, healthy looking kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains. Remote cameras used to monitor the local wildlife populations caught pics of P13 and one kitten early in the month. Since then, we have positioned cameras in the effort to evaluate how many kittens P13 has in tow. Litter sizes can vary from 1-5 kittens, with 2-4 kittens being more common. P13 seems to have two kittens with her now...keep posted for more pictures as we get them!
P19 Recaptured, January 25, 2012: At 1:30am, P19 was recaptured in a cage trap set south of Westlake in protected park land. At just over a year and half in age, she is undergoing her final growth spurt. She was fitted with a radiocollar last fall, so we wanted to check that she wasn't quickly outgrowing the old radiocollar. Because of her growth spurt, we decided to change her radiocollar, and she is not expected to grow much more, so will be able to keep this collar for a while. The collars have limited battery lives, so that will likely dictate when we need to next change her collar. She weighed 77pounds (35kg), and we were able to set a cage trap using a young deer she'd killed the night before as bait. She appeared healthy and we collected blood samples for disease surveys and hopefully anticoagulant rat poison exposure surveys (funding pending)!
New Gray Fox Captured, Topanga, January 28, 2012: We captured a young female in Topanga as part of an effort to capture a bobcat discovered with notoedric mange using remote cameras set up off Topanga Canyon. Five traps were set on Wednesday and so far, one gray fox has been captured, making it GF46 for our study area (ie., the 46th fox we've caught and sampled during our ongoing research). She was young, weighed less than 7 pounds! We collected blood and tissue samples for genetic analysis, disease and anticoagulant rat poison surveys.
Bobcat with mange found dead at Rocky Oaks, January 29, 2012: A bobcat with notoedric mange (see 'Conservation Challenges: Notoedric Mange' for more information) was discovered dead in a grassy area at Rocky Oaks during plant surveys. This is the first mange case we have documented in this part of the Santa Monica Mountains. Thankfully, the folks doing the surveys reported the find to us, and we successfully recovered the body and performed a necropsy. The bobcat was a young adult male and weighed only 7 pounds. Average adult male weights in our area is around 17 pounds, so this bobcat was extremely underweight. Like other bobcats that have died with notoedric mange, he was extremely emaciated and suspected to be exposed to anticoagulant rat poisons. We collected liver, blood, tissue, parasite and fecal samples to learn as much about the life and death of this animal as possible and will test for anticoagulant rat poison exposure.
Two bobcats captured in Westlake, 12/5 and 12/6/2011: Two bobcats were captured the last two days in Westlake by the National Park Service as part of their ongoing urban bobcat research. Each one was an exciting capture for unique reasons.
On 12/5- B281, one of the bobcat kittens captured in April in the Thousand Oaks area as part of the NPS bobcat kitten study, was recaptured! For the sake of our study, and understanding the development of bobcat kittens into adulthood, we always hope to recapture the kittens tagged when they are only a month old. His health was questionable- his coat appeared "scruffy," his bladder was very large (unusual for bobcats we capture), he was constipated, and he had an elevated clotting time. He otherwise appeared healthy. The elevated clotting time suggests that he is exposed to
anticoagulant rat poisons, a huge issue for a local carnivores. As for the other symptoms, we are unsure the significance of what we observed, but one possibility is that he is suffering Vitamin D (a.k.a. Cholcalciferol) poisoning. This is a second, less commonly used, type of rat poison, and if people use it around their house to kill rats, he could be secondarily exposed to the poisons by eating poisoned rats. His calcium levels in his blood were not elevated, however, as we might expect if he was exposed to cholcalciferol poisoning. He is now outfitted with a GPS radio-collar, so we will be able to monitor his movements.
Today, on 12/6, a new adult female (B293) was caught in the Oakbrook Park Patch near Avenida de los Arboles and Westlake. We believe her to be the mother of B291, caught a couple weeks ago in the same habitat patch. We believe her to be the mother of B291 because B291 would not have strayed too far from his mom yet, and because B293 exhibited signs that she lactated this year. Her clotting time was slightly elevated, suggesting that she was exposed to anticoagulant rat poisons. She has a GPS-collar fitted to her now, so we will be able to follow her, and if she survives to have more kittens next year (sometime between February and May), we will be able to tag them.
New Bobcat (B292) Captured in Westlake by NPS, 12/1/11: A young female was captured yesterday morning by National Park Service biologists in Westlake, north of the 101. NPS biologists are targeting bobcats in the Thousand Oaks area as a continuation of their urban bobcat study, ongoing since 1996. In 2002, a notoedric mange epizootic hit the bobcat population in this area hard, killing more than 50% of the bobcats radio-collared in the Thousand Oaks area. The bobcat population suffered a sharp decline, and survival rate for bobcats in the area fell from a high of 85% to less than %25. The mange epizootic was thought to be linked with rat poison exposure in the bobcats. NPS biologists are revisiting the Thousand Oaks areas where they began their study in 1996 to see if the bobcat population is rebounding. The last known mange case in the area was in 2006.
New bobcat (B287) captured (October 22, 2011) near Topanga State Park Trippet Ranch Entrance: B287 was captured in Topanga near the Topanga State Park entrance off of Entrada Road. We recieved a report of a bobcat in the area that week that has beginning signs of mange. We have had time to set only a few traps and had them open two nights before humanely capturing B287. He is a young male that appeared very healthy. He was not the bobcat with mange that for which we have recieved reports. Traps will remain open for a few weeks with the hope of capturing the bobcat with mange and treating him for his condition. His mange is not so severe it necessitates rehabilitation. We treat the disease with a dose of Revolution, donated to us by Pfizer.
New bobcat (B285) tagged (October 5, 2011): B285 is a bobcat with mange that was recieved by the California Wildlife Center on October 5. This young adult male had moderate to severe mange and was discovered in a resident's chicken coop near Solstice Canyon off of Corral Canyon Road in Malibu. Animal services captured the bobcat and transported him to the California Wildlife Center where he is being treated for mange. He will be ear-tagged after he has recovered and released near the site of his capture later this month or early October. This is the first case of mange we have documented near Solstice Canyon area on the south side of Malibu Creek State Park.
New Bobcat Caught in Moorpark for 118-freeway Study (October 9, 2010): Justin Brown, lead biologist on the 118-Freeway bobcat movement study caught the last bobcat targeted for the study. He was a beautiful, healthy male with no evidence of external parasites, including mange. He was given the identifier number B286 and was radio-collared. Justin and NPS biologists will be tracking his movements to learn where bobcats are crossing the 118-Freeway. This study is funded by CalTrans so that when the freeway expands, CalTrans will be able to pinpoint the best locations for wildlife crossing corridors. Although traps are now closed since Justin reached his target number of 10 radio-collared bobcats, he wil continue the study by monitoring the movements of his radio-collared bobcats and using remote cameras posted near the freeway to observe the movement of bobcats and other wildlife accross the freeway. See the 'Projects' page for more information.
Mangy Bobcat, Hollywood Bowl Area (October 1, 2011): Through research cameras set up near Mulholland and the 101-freeway, we have learned that our Hollywood Bowl bobcat, B250 (click here to see photos), has severe notoedric mange. He was last reported seen by residents on Wrightwood Drive in the 90068 zip code. He was seen during the day, sitting on a driveway.
If you live in the area and happen to find this sick bobcat with yellow and red ear tags on your property, DO NOT APPROACH him and please call us ASAP: (424) 645-7862. If he is still alive and relatively immobile, we can try to catch him and take him to a wildlife center for treatment. Trying to approach him will scare him away. If you find him dead, we can still recover valuable samples, but need to get to him preferably within 24hours of death.
We are attempting to recapture him in order to treat him for the disease and to get samples from him to learn more about this normally benign disease (See 'Anticoagulants and Mange' page for more information). We have successfully treated individuals before- click here to learn about one of those cases.
P15 Research News: Poached Mountain Lion Body Discovered (September, 2011): Since the mountain lion study began in 2002 in the Santa Monicas, this is our first known mortality due to poaching. P15 was killed and mutlitated by a private citizen, destroying his radio-collar in the process. The details of his mutilation have been withheld in the case that California Department of Fish and Game may be able to recieve tips on the individual that killed P15 that will lead to an arrest. Mountain lions are a protected species in California, and harvesting individuals without a depredation permit issued by the State is illegal.
We were able to confirm P15's identity through genetic testing to determine that he was, indeed, one of our study animals. His radio-collar had been removed and destroyed. We are hoping that people will come forward with information. A reward of $11,700 is available for useful information. The hotline number to report information is (888) 334-2258. Click here to read more about it.
April 4th: The National Park Service, as part of their ongoing study, successfully tagged three bobcat kittens in the Thousand Oaks area! One female bobcat was actually denning underneath someone's house! These bobcat kittens are now identified as B279, B280, and B281. We will be tracking them to monitor their development within this urban landscape.
May 18: Preliminary data shows several bobcats humanely captured and sampled in Griffith Park, Thousand Oaks, and Moorepark are exposed to anticoagulants, particularly diphacinone. These data are not surprising given the fact that these areas are all impacted by urban development.
July-August, 2011: Four new bobcats (B278, B282, B283 and B284) have been humanely captured and radio-collared as part of National Park Service research in collaboration with CalTrans in Moorepark to study bobcat movement patterns around the 118-Freeway. All three bobcats were young males that appeared to be in good health. NPS aims to capture two more individuals for this study.