Traces of poison detected in bobcats found dead near UC Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Bobcats are dying near the University of California Santa Cruz. Three cats in as many months have died and new necropsy reports show they all had poison in their blood.

Two of the cats were already bleeding internally when they were hit by cars on Empire Grade. One bob cat was found inside the arboretum with her kitten and she died a short time later.

Brett Hall, Conservation Director for the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, found two of the three poisoned bobcats.

The incident involving a female bobcat dying near her kitten was especially heartbreaking.

"It's terrible! We loved for years and years seeing bobcats," Hall said. "The sick mother, with the young kitten trying to get close and perhaps suckle it... it was very sad."

Another cat was hit by a car last month. A necropsy shows all three bobcats had rat poison in their systems.

Wildlife experts believe someone living nearby is using the poison to get rid of rodents, which are then being eaten by the bob cats.

"Poison is just a cheap shot and it does so much damage to our wildlife, it's incredible," said Rebecca Dmytryk, of Wildlife Emergency Services.

Wildlife Emergency Services was called each time the cats were found. Though two of the cats were hit by cars, the company's director still thinks the poison played a major role in their deaths.

"These animals that get hit by cars and take them to the wildlife hospital and they die, maybe they could have survived had they not been bleeding out already from the poisons," Dmytriyk said.

Brodifacoum is legal but it's only sold to pest control companies. People at the Department of Fish and Wildlife are also worried about what's happening.

"It's a few cats, a high concentration of Brodifacoum, small amount of time in a real tight area," Stella McMillan, of the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

Scientists plan to do public outreach to let people know about the effects of the poison later this month.
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