Two weeks after authorities reported that a mountain lion and a bobcat died directly from the effects of anticoagulant rat poisons, a trio of conservation groups announced that they delivered 10,000 signatures urging California Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a bill that wold ban the highly toxic substances until state agencies develop safeguards.
The organizations noted that a 2018 state analysis documented highly toxic rat poisons — known as second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides — in more than 85% of tested mountain lions, bobcats and protected Pacific fishers — a forest-dwelling mammal, per the Department of Fish and Wildlife Service’s website — prompting state regulators to evaluate whether to further restrict or ban the chemicals.
“Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides are the worst of the worst poisons, leading non-target wildlife to needlessly suffer from internal bleeding and death,” said Jennifer Hauge, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s legislative affairs manager.
The bill targets only the most dangerous rodenticides and includes exceptions to allow their use to protect public health and agriculture, and more than 175 less-toxic rat poison products would still be available if the measure is approved, proponents from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity and Raptors Are The Solution said.
On Aug. 27, the National Park Service announced that a mountain lion that was collared last November in an urban neighborhood in Northridge and subsequently found dead in January and a bobcat discovered in a residential neighborhood of Agoura Hills died directly from the effects of anticoagulant rat poisons.
The body of the mountain lion, P-76, was found Jan. 30 in the Santa Susana Mountains, north of Highway 118, and subsequent testing showed exposure to five compounds that include first- and second-generation poisons, according to National Park Service biologists.
P-76 was the sixth collared mountain lion to die of coagulopathy and the third in the last two years, and researchers have documented the presence of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds in 26 of 27 local mountain lions that have been tested, including a 3-month-old kitten.
The adult female bobcat dubbed B-372 — found dead June 20 under an oak tree in a residential neighborhood of Agoura Hills — had been determined to be in good health when she was captured in January at the south end of Cheeseboro Canyon north of the 101 Freeway and subsequently released, authorities said.
It was the second time within a 24-year study that researchers have determined that a bobcat has died directly from the effects of the poisons and the first time in 23 years.
“We basically never see this in bobcats so this is an important finding,” said Joanne Moriarty, a biologist who has researched bobcats for more than 15 years.
The bobcat had spent much of her time in residential areas, atypical for adult females, according to Moriarty.
That may have led to increased exposure to the poisons, which are often used by homeowners or businesses to control rodents, according to the National Park Service.
The bobcat was extremely emaciated and a bone marrow test showed signs of chronic anemia, which indicated that she may have been experiencing clinical symptoms of coagulopathy over an extended period of time that could signal repeated exposure to anticoagulant rat poison compounds, according to researchers.
Following the announcement about the two animals, Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity said “these gruesome deaths are all the more tragic because we know they are completely preventable.
“There are safer, cheaper alternatives to these dangerous rat poisons that greatly reduce risks to wildlife, pets and children,” Evans said last month.
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