The treatable disease that killed the famous mountain lion

(KTLA) — A biologist recalls the life of a female mountain lion who died of a treatable disease earlier this year.

P-65 was one of dozens of lions collared and tracked in decades of research by the National Park Service.

Throughout her life, scientists marveled at her movements, calling her an “interesting study cat.”

In March 2018, she was caught and collard in the Santa Monica Mountains as part of an investigation.

Her entire home range was found to be within fatal burns Woolsey Fireburned more than 96,000 acres in November 2018, killing three people. She survived by remaining in the southeastern part of the perimeter of the fire, where there were pockets of unburned land.

In the summer of 2019, she became the second tracked female mountain lion to cross the 101 Freeway. She is believed to have run across the driveway in Simi Hills. The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing is currently under construction. She crossed the highway again a few weeks later and returned to the Santa Monica Mountains.

She had an eventful life and fascinated wildlife biologists until she was found dead on March 4th of this year.

So how did she die?

When she was found, researchers found she had severe symptoms of scabies. The skin disease is caused by ticks and is known to affect other large cats like bobcats, but has also been documented in squirrels and rabbits, the National Park Service says.

P-65’s scabies was extreme. She had hair loss and crusty skin all over her body, especially her face and head. She also appeared to be starving from complications from her illness, which left her severely emaciated.

It’s not uncommon for mountain lions to get scabies. She had a treatable illness that required topical medications to cure her infection, but researchers were unaware of her condition until after her death.

“We’ve had a few radio-colored pumas with scabies in the past, but we’ve been able to treat them with topical anti-parasitic medications in previous cases,” said National Park Service wildlife biologist Jeff Sikich. ‘ said. Sikich leads fieldwork for the Mountain Lion Project. “All of these animals recovered from scabies, as far as we can tell from remote camera photography and subsequent examination.”

She is the first mountain lion to die from scabies in more than 20 years of research, according to the NPS.

Autopsy and toxicology reports revealed that P-65 had also been exposed to a commercial rodenticide, “anticoagulant rodenticide.”

Rodenticides have been blamed for years as a significant cause of death in mountain lions and bobcats and are widely considered to be a threat to larger wildlife populations. Ingested rats are eaten by larger animals and become venomous.

Nearly all mountain lions tested as part of the study tested positive for some type of rodenticide, biologists say.

The problem is so big that wildlife researchers and advocates are calling on homeowners and landowners to stop using it. Anticoagulant rodenticides in hopes of preventing more wildlife deaths.

In addition, research from the National Park Service and UCLA has shown that there may be physiological and genetic links between exposure to rodenticides in big cats and effects on the immune system. I’m here.

These immune system changes can make mountain lions and bobcats more susceptible to scabies.

It’s a bit concerning for researchers, as most mountain lions test positive for some form of rodenticide, and many cases of scabies have been documented within the study population.

P-65 gave birth to three pups in 2020. Two were collared as part of an ongoing study. Both of her captive cubs, P-89 When P-90also found to be suffering from scabies, but was treated by researchers and made a full recovery.

But both cubs died after being hit by a car on the freeway earlier this year, potentially bringing an end to Southern California’s lineage of great survivors. The treatable disease that killed the famous mountain lion

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