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Eastern Cougar Declared Extinct

Eastern Cougar Declared Extinct

This Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern cougar extinct and is now moving forward with plans to remove them from the Endangered Species Act.

While many suspected that cougars, otherwise known as catamount, mountain cat, mountain lion, panther, or puma, had been wiped out in the east for a while, others believed they were still here eluding humans as to their whereabouts, which lead to their nickname “ghost cat.”

At least 108 sightings have been reported between 1900 and 2010, although none of them were confirmed. Most were believed to have been western cougars spotted during migration, or domesticated or captive cougars that got loose.

In 2007, the UWFWS began a review of trail cameras, eyewitness accounts and road kill reports and is now confident that the eastern cougar is extinct. It’s been 70 years since the last confirmed sighting in Maine.

Eastern cougars once thrived, but became the victims of overzealous hunting and bounties and also suffered from a decline of white-tailed deer, their main prey, which lead to their decline. They were added to the Endangered Species Act in 1973. 

The loss of a top predator has lead to a vast increase in deer populations and a decline in forest health in the east. Some experts believe that the western cougar will eventually makes its way east to fill in the gap.

Others including organizations, such as the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, would like to see a reintroduction of wolves and cougars, but expect that suggestions or plans to do so would meet opposition.

“Our ecosystems are collapsing up and down the East Coast, and they’re collapsing because we have too many white-tailed deer,” said Christopher Spatz, the organizations president. “Our forests are not being permitted to regenerate.”

He added that cougars and wolves would naturally thin the deer herd through direct predation while also acting as “natural shepherds,” forcing deer to become more vigilant and “stop browsing like cattle.”

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554 comments

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2:21AM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

very sad,thank you for sharing

9:02AM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

6:25AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

When I was a kid I remember seeing cougars in the woods closely. Now they've been pushed out of their territory. Why do people think killing they can just kill everything. People are destroying the environment killing the animals there. Oh yea Zoo's, lets keep a few in zoos which will limit the gene pool eventually causing deformities & death.

3:28PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

So sad...

3:27PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

So sad...

3:14PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

I don't like hunters or any of those other MURDER'S
I can see hunting for food,but for "GOD SAKES" we have these things call SUPERMARKETS.
Killing and hunting these cat's just for the HELL of it is unexaptable.
I say give they animals GUNS,and see how the hunters like being chase down and hunting.
Yes I agree with some people that hunting etc. should be BAN.

4:59PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

I say BAN HUNTING AND TRAPPING FOREVER!!!

4:59PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

I say BAN HUNTING AND TRAPPING FOREVER!!!

8:15AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

We have a bunch of cougars here in the catskills, I actually have seen several.

6:41AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

saddened..:( such beautiful majestic creatures ..They need to go back to the endangered list and areas where they remain must be protected from greedy evil bastards who like to create politics so they can hunt and kill for amusement and ego

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