Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 1    April 2011

Eastern Cougar Declared Extinct
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the eastern cougar extinct.-

Cougars are also known as mountain lion, mountain cat, panther, puma, or catamount.  Most believed they were wiped out years ago. Others think they are still eluding humans. This leads to their nickname “ghost cat.”

At least 108 unconfirmed sightings were reported between 1900 - 2010. Scientists assume there were migrating western cougars or domesticated or captive cougars that got loose.


In 2007, the UWFWS began a review of trail cameras, eyewitness accounts and road kill reports. They are confident that the eastern cougar is extinct. The last confirmed sighting was 70 years ago in Maine.

Eastern cougars thrived until they became victims of overzealous hunting and bounties. They also suffered from a decline of white-tailed deer, their main prey. The cougar was added to the Endangered Species Act in 1973. 

The loss of a top predator has lead to a vast increase in eastern deer populations and a decline in forest health.

"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. "Our forests are not being permitted to regenerate."

Some experts think the western cougar will eventually move east to fill in the gap. Others would like to see wolves and cougars reintroduced to the area now, but expect it would meet opposition.

Spatz said predators like cougars and wolves would naturally thin the deer herd. They would become "natural shepherds," by forcing deer to be more careful and "stop browsing like cattle."

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