Mange is a highly destructive disease of both wild and domestic animals. The National Parks Service (NPS) recently announced that the disease has claimed a female mountain lion being monitored in the ongoing study of Santa Monica Mountain cougars.
She had also ingested rodenticides by eating small prey animals. Rodenticides may contribute to mange. The active ingredients in many rodenticides are anti-coagulants. The target animal dies from internal bleeding. Animals that eat them are believed to be more susceptible to mange.
The cougar, numbered P-65, had been in the study since she was collared in 2018.Her body was found near a stream in Malibu in March, the NPS said. A necropsy showed she died of complications of notoedric mange.
According to the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab mange is caused by mites that burrow into the skin. It is transmitted by close contact between a host animal and the dog or cat that gets mange. Mites are tiny blood sucking arthropods related to ticks and spiders. There are three types of mange: Sarcoptic, notoedric, and demodectic. P-65 suffered from notoedric mange which she probably caught from eating squirrels. Notoedric mange tends to be species specific to squirrels. Although mountain lions prefer local mule deer, they are opportunists and will eat rabbits and squirrels. She had traces of five different rodenticides in her body, the necropsy showed.
Rodenticides are a challenging topic in conservation circles. They are effective at killing rodents, but are dangerous to other wildlife. California banned the use of second generation anti-coagulant rodenticides two years ago. The ban was designed to allow federal authorities to examine the question. Since people fear and loathe rats and mice, anti-coagulants have strong proponents.
Local bobcats also suffer from mange. Bobcats in the local mountains have been under study by the NPS since 1996. Over 300 of the small cats have been monitored. Mountain lions came under focus around the year 2001 and just about 100 have been monitored in the study.