The Death of P-47

A few weeks ago, National Park Service biologists in the Santa Monica Mountains tracked a mountain lion’s GPS collar after it sent out “a mortality signal.” They found the mountain lion, dubbed P-47, dead. P-47 weighed 150 pounds, the largest and most robust of any in the region. He was only three years old. What killed him? Or more accurately, who killed him?

According to a local ranger,

A necropsy revealed that he may have succumbed to poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticide, commonly known as rat poison. Testing on a sample of his liver showed that he had been exposed to not just one, but SIX different anticoagulant compounds! Internal hemorrhaging was also found in his head and lungs.

Not only do rodenticides kill animals, but they do so in one of the cruelest and most prolonged ways possible, causing anywhere from four to seven days of suffering before rodents like rats and squirrels finally succumb to the massive internal bleeding these poisons facilitate. This long sickness period often includes abnormal breathing, diarrhea, shivering and trembling, external bleeding and spasms; suffering and death that is perpetuated when their dead bodies are ingested by subsequent animals, such as owls and raptors. And P-47. In fact, “Biologists have documented the presence of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds in 21 out of 22 local mountain lions that have been tested, including in a three-month-old kitten.”

Land managers should not be in the business of targeting any healthy animals, trees, and plants for elimination, especially by pesticides. Tragically, these stewards of public lands are now in bed with the very chemical industries, like Dow and Monsanto, that are poisoning that land (and the animals living there). This Faustian bargain is driven by those who (falsely) wear the mantle of “environmentalism,” since the movement was hijacked by the pseudoscience of “Invasion Biology,” which has launched a never-ending war on nature. Its armaments in that war include the very things the environmental movement was founded to combat and protect animals and plants against: chainsaws, traps, guns, and pesticides.

To adherents of invasion biology, squirrels and rats (and, as we saw recently in Australia, cats and others) are targeted with poisons because they are deemed “non-native” and “invasive,” terms that inspire unwarranted fear, knee-jerk suspicion, and a lack of thoughtfulness and moral consideration. They are language of intolerance, based on an idea most of us have rejected in our treatment of our fellow human beings — that the value of a living being can be reduced merely to its place of ancestral origin.

While NPS biologists expressed sadness for the death of P-47 and local rangers sounded the alarm about rodenticides, the agency is guilty of similar conduct, killing, as it does, animals across the country with similar means.

Enough is enough. We need to reclaim the environmental movement away from nativists and reorient it back to its founding mission: protecting plants and animals from the very chainsaws, traps, guns, and pesticides they now use to harm them.

Rest in peace P-47.


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