Investigating the source of a bad odor, hikers near Newbury Park in Point Mugu State Park, California discovered the decomposing body of the one-year old mountain lion kitten known by researchers as P-25: the daughter of P-12 and P-13.
A National Park Service biologist identified the carcass and transferred the remains to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for necropsy.
"Mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains face a number of challenges to survive," said Dr. Seth Riley, an expert on urban wildlife with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). "In addition to conflicts with other lions over territory, lions here have to contend with road mortalities, rodenticide poisoning and occasionally disease."
Although the results of the necropsy will not be available for a few weeks, the death did not appear to be the result of a conflict with another lion. Biologists suspect that P-25 had been dead for about a week.
The presence of P-25 and her brother, P-26 were first discovered earlier this year in remote camera photographs and the two kittens were subsequently fitted with expandable GPS collars last August. Expandable collars are designed to grow with the lion, but when P-25's collar recently came off, researchers were only able to track her by monitoring the location of her mother and brother, who she was presumed to be traveling with.
Biologists from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service, are currently tracking eight mountain lions as part of a decade-long study to better understand how the animals survive in such an urbanized landscape. Among the 26 mountain lions tracked during the course of the study, the number one cause of death has been conflict with other mountain lions, followed by an equal number of deaths from rodenticide poisoning and vehicle collisions.
MLF will apprise readers of P-25's necropsy results once they are available.