P-34 found dead near Point Mugu State Park.
This is the flip side of the healthy local mountain lions I posted pictures of early this morning. Two young pumas that were being tracked in the Santa Monica Mountains and a third unknown kitten have been killed in recent weeks. The two known lions had been mentioned here and in the media before.
"If you’re a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains, this is just not an easy place to grow up,” said Dr. Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for the National Park Service, in a statement released today. “From our roads to rat poisons to potentially increased interactions with other mountains lions, it is very difficult for young animals to make it to adulthood, establish their own home range and reproduce.”
The park service says that P-34, a juvenile female that researchers began following when she was three weeks old, was found by a runner on a trail in Point Mugu State Park on September 30. The preliminary results of a necropsy suggest she died as a result of rodenticide poisoning. "Wounds on her face and body indicated she had been in a fight just before her death, likely with another lion, but they were superficial and were not the direct cause of death," the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area statement says.
P-34 had been photographed last December lounging under a trailer in a mobile home park in Newbury Park and walking in a nearby backyard. She was a sibling of P-32, the male struck and killed while crossing Interstate 5 this past August.
Also last month, per the NPS, park service biologist Jeff Sikich found the remains of P-43 and a previously unknown sibling in a remote part of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains. The two kittens were only three months old. When P-43 was tagged as a kittens, the biologists thought she was the only kitten in the litter.
The young kittens had been eaten by another animal, the NPS says. "Forensic DNA results from UCLA will potentially provide more information on the species of animal involved in the attack and may even identify the specific individual, if it was one of the study’s collared mountain lions," the park service says.
P-43’s mother, P-23, has had two litters of kittens and both litters have now been killed by other animals….
Infanticide is a form of intra-specific conflict, which is the number one cause of death since the National Park Service began studying mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains in 2002. The purpose of the study is to determine how they survive in an increasingly urbanized environment.
Scientists are currently tracking 10 animals in the region. (See map below.)
Gridlocked, the wildlife blog from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, explores the subject of mountain lion infanticide in a post today.