California Mountain Lion From Two-Decade National Park Study Found Dead

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images)

One of the mountain lion subjects of a National Park Service study has been found dead in southern California. Authorities believe a case of mange is the lion’s cause of death. This mountain lion, dubbed as P-65 was the first cougar of its kind in the 20-year-long National Park Service study to die from mange, officials note.

Officials Discover California Mountain Lion P-65 In The Santa Monica Mountains

Scientists have been tracking the California cougar, P-65 for the study for a number of years. She was first tagged for the study in March of 2018. Officials report that the 5-year-old email mountain lion was suffering from mange. This is a highly contagious skin disease. The cause of mange is primarily due to a mite parasite invading the animal’s skin and fur.

National park officials found P-65 near a stream within the Santa Monica Mountains this spring. She was a big part of a larger program tracking the movements of animals like her around the California landscapes.

According to reports, P-65 was suffering from a severe case of notoedric mange. Reports note that this further becomes clear in looking at the cougar’s extreme hair loss and skin encrustations. Scientists also note that most of these symptoms occurred on the mountain lion’s head.

Most Lions In The Study Are Diagnosed And Treated

According to statements from the National Parks Study behind tracking mountain lions such as P-65, most of these cases are diagnosed and treated successfully. Most cases of mange that occur in the lions with tracking collars are treated with a topical medicine that initial anti-parasitic elements.

“All of these animals recovered from their mange disease as best as we could tell from remote camera photos or later examination,” notes Jeff Sikich a park service wildlife biologist.

“However, in P-65′s case, we did not know about her disease,” Sikich notes. “Until after she had died.”

Numerous Rat Poisons Were Also Found To Be Ingested By P-65, Officials Note

After the discovery of P-65’s body in March, the researchers looked deeper into the mountain lion’s health, aside from the deadly case of mange. These further tests serve as proof that P-65 was suffering from exposure to numerous versions of anticoagulant rodenticides. Otherwise known as rat poisons.

Researchers note that this is a sad and common occurrence these days. Mountain lions feed on squirrels or other small animals. And, some of these small animals ingest these poisons in the more urban areas.

Officials first fitted the mountain lion P-65 with a radio tracking collar just over four years ago in the spring of 2018. These scientists were studying how the big cats live and survive. Primarily, the study focuses on how the animals survive in a habitat that is regularly changing by urban sprawl. The study also focuses on how the lions adapt to hazards such as poisons and the multiple busy roadways throughout the area.