A mountain lion that appeared strong and healthy when it was photographed as it ruled a wilderness park in the middle of Los Angeles has been exposed to rat poison and is suffering from mange, officials said.
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Scientists noticed the big cat known as P-22 was sickly when they recaptured it last month to replace batteries in its GPS tracking collar, National Park Service spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall said Thursday.
The 4-year-old cougar probably ate animals exposed to poison from residential rodent traps, she said.
“When people put these bait traps outside their homes or businesses, they may not realize that the poison works its way up the food chain, becoming more lethal as the dose accumulates in larger animals,” said Dr. Seth Riley, an urban wildlife expert at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.