Friday, August 03, 2007

Mountain lion killed by car near Malibu

A male mountain lion collared by the National Park Service was found fatally injured Tuesday morning on Malibu Canyon Road near Tunnel One, according to authorities.

An NPS spokesperson said the young male named P-9 was apparently hit by a vehicle on the canyon roadway.

"We are pretty sure it was hit by a car," said Charles Taylor, a spokesperson for the Park Service, who said the big cat's body was on the roadway pavement.

The remains were turned over to the state Department of Fish and Game for a necropsy.

Besides the official cause of death, park officials want to determine whether the animal had consumed traces of chemical anti-coagulants.

The substances, often used in many types of rodent poisons, are now thought to have found their way up the predator food chain to the top level and may be killing off animals. "We can't check that in a mountain lion until a necropsy is performed, " Taylor said.

P-9 was collared on May 15 with a tracking device and had recently been observed traveling through Malibu Creek State Park and Santa Ynez Canyon located near Topanga Canyon State Park.

Taylor said they do not believe it is the same cougar that was spotted on the Pepperdine University campus several weeks ago.

The dead cat is believed to have been two or three years old and was not one of the kittens born to a female that was killed during a fight with a larger male lion over a year ago.

With the demise of P-9, it is estimated that the current population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains is four.

There are two females, one male and another so-called mystery cat. There have been six recorded deaths of the cougars, according to Taylor, over the past four years.

Repeated sightings of smaller, uncollared mountain lions has led some observers to think that new animals are managing to traverse populated areas, and even freeways, to join the gene pool in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Without this potential for diversity, the big cats will continue to face difficult odds of healthy survival in an increasingly in­hospitable environment.

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