P-54 mountain lion was pregnant when hit, killed by vehicle

An adult mountain lion who was hit and killed by a car in June was pregnant with four kittens at the time, and all five animals tested positive for rat poison – the first time officials have been able to test animals. cougar fetuses, the National Park Service said Wednesday.

The 5-year-old mountain lion, designated P-54, was killed in the Santa Monica Mountains on June 17. She was hit around 9.30am on Las Virgenes Road between Piuma Road and Mulholland Highway, not far from where her mother was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2018.

At the time, P-54 was the 29th mountain lion killed by a vehicle since 2002 in the Park Service’s Cougar Study Area – which includes the Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills, Griffith Park and Santa Susana Mountains. and Verdugo – including 10 lions that had been surrounded and tracked by park officials.

P-54 tested positive for five anticoagulant rodenticidal compounds in her liver. A sixth compound, a neurotoxic rodenticide, was found in his fatty tissue.

All four full-term fetuses were also exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides.

National Park Service researchers said 39 of 40 local cougars tested, including all four fetuses, showed the presence of anticoagulant rodenticides.

“This is the first time in our 20-year study that we’ve been able to test cougar fetuses for anticoagulant rodenticides,” said Jeff Sikich, cougar project biologist at Santa Mountains National Recreation Area. Monica. statement.

Researchers are studying how cougars are affected by the urban landscape in which they live, Sikich said.

“Unfortunately, we learned that cougars are susceptible to rat poison even before they were born,” Sikich said. “In this case, it is also regrettable because the death of P-54 due to a vehicle resulted in the loss of four other young pumas, two males and two females, who were about to enter the population. .”

The collision with the vehicle caused traumatic injuries to P-54, including fractures to his ribs and left femur, which were the ultimate cause of death, authorities said.

Her body was taken to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino for an autopsy and testing.

One of P-54’s previous descendants, P-97, was struck and killed by a vehicle on Highway 405 near the Getty Center in April. This puma was 18 months old, according to authorities.

Senior scientist Tiffany Yap of the Center for Biological Diversity said the deaths prove California needs to invest in animal crossings for roads and highways.

“The devastating death of P-54 and her four unborn kittens is a morbid reminder that we are driving our beloved pumas to extinction,” Yap said.

A wildlife crossing across the 101 in Agoura Hills, which would provide animals with a bridge as they search for food and mates, is expected to be completed in 2025.

Los Angeles Times

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