Sick bobcats in Santa Monica Mountains raise concerns about pesticide

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- Efforts to control the rat population in one Thousand Oaks community have renewed concerns about the dangers that pesticides pose to mountain lions and other wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Residents who live near the mountains say they have come across sick bobcats and noticed a drop in the owl population recently. They are concerned that a series of new rat traps labeled "Poison" that have been placed around the Dos Vientos Ranch community are contributing to the volume of pesticides in the food chain.

"This HOA has been poisoning the very animals that keep that rat population under control," said Thousand Oaks resident Julie Schiowitz.

The company that manages Dos Vientos Ranch did not respond to requests for comment. But the owner of Ventura Pest Control, the company hired by the community to control the rat population, said the traps that have concerned residents were actually mislabeled. He said they were non-toxic traps that were installed last month, after about 12 years of using state and federally approved poisons.

The National Park Service has been monitoring indirect wildlife poisonings in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area since the early 2000s and has documented some 140 cases.

Among them are some of Southern California's most well-known mountain lions - like P-22, the cougar that was found roaming Griffith Park and had to be nursed back to health after suffering from pesticide poisoning and mange. Another mountain lion, P-34, was found dead last September in Point Mugu State Park.
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