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Goodbye P47 - Death of a Mountain Lion

Mountain lion in Santa Monica mountains.
P-47 Alive

It’s not often that things stop me in my tracks, but the other day I was listening to the local drive home news in my car when the news anchor said, “We have some sad news to report today, P47, the male Mountain Lion that the parks department has been following for years has been found dead in the Santa Monica Mountain Range where he was born and roamed for the past several years.” I turned up the volume and looked at my radio as if what the man was saying couldn’t be so. He continued, “He died from ingesting rat poison. He had recently escaped the devastating fires from last fall but apparently he could not survive the people that he shared his habitat with.”

As the news anchor’s voice drifted off into the next story, my eyes started welling with tears, as they are now as I write this. Why, would a mountain lion who I had never laid eyes on or even knew more about than what I’d heard and read in the news have such a deep and profound affect on me and my now, aching heart? P47 was a two year old male mountain lion who was first tagged with a GPS tracking collar by the National Park Service in the Santa Monica Mountains in January of 2017 when he was just four weeks old. They had posted a picture of him in his den that day in the local newspaper. He was absolutely adorable! His little face and strong eyes gave me hope that he would live a long and healthy life in the hills behind my home. He had last been captured by the NPS in January of 2018 when he was fourteen months old. He weighed one hundred and eight pounds that day and had become the largest male mountain lion in the studies history.

Dead mountain lion laying on the ground.
P-47 Found Dead

But on March 21, a little over a year from his last weigh-in, P47, who had just turned two years old was found dead on a trail after succumbing to a horrific death from ingesting rat poison. He was full grown and weighed exactly one hundred and fifty pounds. This is one of the saddest things that I have ever heard and ever had to write. And, yes, I have to write this because it tears my heart to pieces that a human being who was too lazy and too asleep to care about the wildlife that surrounded his or her home killed my mountain lion hero; P47. He was the Rocky Balboa of mountain lions. And, he was killed by some thoughtless human being who carelessly and recklessly put out rat poison to rid themselves of a pest problem. I hope that whoever was responsible for this senseless death had heard the news that brought me to tears that day. I hope that every single person who has put rat poison out in their house or around their properties in the Santa Monica Mountains realize that they had a part in killing a magnificent animal, a neighbor and a friend! Why did this have to happen?

It blows my mind how selfish, unkind and inconsiderate human beings can be sometimes. How some of us are so obsessed with our own lives that we seem not to care about the world around us and the creatures and beings that inhabit it? Why is someone’s rat problem worth taking the life of a beautiful animal like P47? Why live in the Santa Monica Mountain Range if you don’t want to deal with the wildlife and the challenges that living in and around nature can pose? Why? Why not stop and smell the ceanothus growing in your canyon? Why not look outside and see if any humming birds are visiting the flowers that line your driveway? Why not notice the squirrels who live above you and in the tress of your neighborhood, P47’s neighborhood, my neighborhood? Why not realize we all live here together? Why?

So let me tell my neighbors who use rat poison in the neighborhoods near my home and near P47’s home… he died a horrible and painful death. A death that I would not wish on anyone, let alone an animal who was just doing his job and eating vermin and small animals that have always been his prey. A necropsy performed on P47 showed that he died from being poisoned from anticoagulant rodenticide, which is rat poison. The tests further revealed that he had been exposed to not just one, but six different types of rat poison!!! This poor wonderful animal hemorrhaged to death out of his head and lungs. Why?

If you have a rat problem, get rid of what they are coming to your house for… food! If you have trash - keep it sealed. If you have a veggie garden - fence and wire it off. If you have to trap - use snap traps or electric traps, or trip lights to scare them, but don’t EVER use poison. EVER! I don’t like having to kill things, but I have a trapped a few rats in my day with old fashioned rat traps and then disposed of them so that no animal or child could get to them. The rats are also my neighbors. They aren't stupid. They will go for the the low hanging fruit, the easy pickings, and if they know that you use rat traps, have wire screened your garden or garage off from them or keep your garbage cans sealed tight. They will move on… and without having to poison them!

Biologists who are studying the mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountain Range have found rat poison in twenty-one out of twenty-two local mountain lions that they have tested, which included a three-month-old kitten. Another male who died shortly after the Woolsey Fire, P64, also had six different anticoagulant compounds in his liver.

Lethal dose sign for rat poison and local wildlife.
Rat Poison & Local Wildlife

A poisoned animal will suffer an internal bleeding that leads to shock, loss of consciousness, and eventually death. If you buy any of these products; d-Con, Finale, Fologorat, Havoc, Jaguar, Klerat, Matikus, Mouser, Pestoff, Ratak+, Rodend, Talon, Volak and Volid, then STOP! If you have them in your home take them to the Poison Control Center in your community for them to dispose of. These products are all odorless and tasteless so that rats and mice will continue to eat them until it has the desired effect; death. These poisons are a particularly large problem for dog owners because dogs seem to like the taste of the grain and chemical combination and they also seem to ingest large amounts of these poisons.

The symptoms of eating garbage like d-Con poisoning and the like include bleeding gums, bloody nose, blood in the urine, weakness, and labored breathing which is caused by bleeding into the chest. These rodenticides have a long-term effect which means that even though your pets and local wildlife may not show any signs of poisoning for days or sometimes weeks, they may already be bleeding internally. One thing is for sure, if your puppy, the neighborhood rats or my dear friend P47 ingest enough rodenticide, they will die, and you my friends will mourn the loss of your beloved puppy, the same way that I am mourning the death of a great mountain lion. Remember where you live. Be grateful for the animals that grace your path. Always vote with your wallet. Don’t support those who do wrong. And, always speak the truth when it just might save someone or something that you love.

close-up of dead mountain lion.
Death of a Mountain Lion


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