A mountain lion suffering from mange was captured and treated for the parasitic disease, and National Park Service officials said Thursday they are waiting on blood test results to determine if the ailment is linked to rat poison.
The 3-year-old female lion, known as P-53, is one of the surviving siblings from a litter of kittens born in the summer of 2015 and living in the central Santa Monica Mountains, toward the coast. She’d previously been fitted with a GPS collar and tracked, with researchers recently discovering her mangy appearance.
P-53 was captured and treated on Feb. 10. Kate Kuykendall of the National Park Service said blood tests will determine whether her mange was a result of exposure to a rodenticide that’s been detected in other mountain lions. The connection between exposure to poison and the disease is still not fully understood, but two other cases have been fatal.
Although mange is generally rare among wild cats, officials say P-53’s is the fifth case of mange in mountain lions since a study was started in 2002. The disease has had a greater and deadlier impact on bobcats in the same area.
“It’s concerning to see this mange in a mountain lion because it generally means that the animal is compromised in some other way, such as having been exposed to toxicants,” said Seth Riley, wildlife ecologist for the Santa Monica National Recreation Area and professor at UCLA. “We are hopeful the treatment will be successful and that we can monitor P-53’s recovery through remote camera images.”
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