Eastern cougar officially declared extinct

Jeremy Hance
March 02, 2011

The Eastern cougar, a likely subspecies of the mountain lion, was officially declared extinct today by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, ending 38 years on the Endangered Species List (ESA). The cougar, which once roamed the Eastern US, had not been confirmed since 1930s, although sightings have been consistently reported up to the present-day.

"We recognize that many people have seen cougars in the wild within the historical range of the eastern cougar. However, we believe those cougars are not the eastern cougar subspecies. We found no information to support the existence of the eastern cougar," explained the Service’s Northeast Region Chief of Endangered Species Martin Miller.

Cougars sighted in the area may be western mountain lions expanding their range or escaped pets.

Remaining cougar subspecies in the US include the North American cougar, inhabiting the western US, and the Florida panther, which is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, and survives in a few protected areas in Florida.

The Eastern cougar is not the first megafauna subspecies to vanish in the US. Both the Eastern elk and Merriam's elk were killed off in the late nineteenth century; the California golden bear vanished in the 1920s while the Mexican grizzly bear became extinct in the 1960s; and a number of contested subspecies of wolf have also vanished in the US including the Florida black wolf, the cascade mountain wolf, and the southern Rocky Mountains wolf.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (March 02, 2011).

Eastern cougar officially declared extinct .