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Tests inconclusive on death of mountain lion near Newbury Park

Puma-25, in a picture taken by a remote camera in June.  Credit: National Park Service

Authorities say necropsy results from a dead mountain lion found by hikers in the Santa Monica Mountains did not determine a cause of death but did indicate some exposure to rodent poison. 

Determining the mountain lion's cause of death is impossible,  officials said, in part because the carcass was already partially decomposed by the time it was discovered near Newbury Park. 

“Unfortunately, we’ll never know exactly why this animal died,” said Seth Riley of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in a statement. “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.”

A small group of hikers on Oct. 21 "noticed a bad odor" after hiking a short distance off-trail in Point Mugu State Park and discovered the dead mountain lion, authorities said.

A biologist identified the animal as an approximately 1-year-old female; its carcass was sent to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for necropsy. The animal, known as Puma-25, had been fitted with a tracking collar that had recently come off. Officials suspect she had been dead for about a week.

Laboratory tests detected low levels of exposure to two compounds, commonly found in rat poison, which are known to cause uncontrolled bleeding and have been confirmed as the cause of death for two other mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains in the last 10 years. Most exposure to rodenticides occurs indirectly when the lions eat animals that have eaten the poison.

Authorities have said the death did not appear to result from a conflict with another lion.

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-- Wesley Lowery

Follow Wesley Lowery on Twitter and Google+.

Photo: Puma-25, in a picture taken by a remote camera in June.  Credit: National Park Service
 
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