The mountain lion known to roam Griffith Park is suffering from mange, believed to have been caused by rat poison, it was reported Thursday.
Designated as P-22, the animal looked majestic just a few months ago in a trail-camera photo shot against the backdrop of the Hollywood sign, the Los Angeles Times reported. But when a remote camera in Griffith Park captured an image of the puma more recently, it showed a thinner and mangy animal.
Scientists then sedated him and drew blood samples, which reflected evidence of exposure to rat poisons, according to The Times.
Researchers say they suspect a link between the poisons and the mange, a parasitic skin disease that causes crusting and skin lesions and has contributed to the deaths of scores of bobcats and coyotes.
A National Park Service biologist applied a topical treatment for mange and injected Vitamin K to offset the effects of poisoning, The Times reported.
The condition of California's famous cougar is likely to intensify the debate over the use of rat poisons in areas of the state where urban living collides with nature, according to the newspaper.
"The worst outcome would be that the treatment might not work and he
could continue to get sicker with the mange and eventually die from it," Seth
Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation
Area, told The Times. The cougar could also die directly from rat poison.
—City News Service