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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declares eastern cougar extinct

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed removing the eastern cougar from the endangered species list because the have determined the species is extinct.  If you think about it, if a couple of the cats are lurking about the hidden recesses of the eastern mountains and some knucklehead harms them, the cougars have no special protection anymore.  I don't know why they can't be declared extinct and left on the endangered species list.  It's tough to be more endangered than extinct.

Cougars are sighted in the east every so often and I personally know some people who swear they have seen one.  From time to time pictures of a cougar pop up on suspect emails and there is more than one website touting their existence. The USFWS explain these sighting as being that of either western sub species that wandered across the Mississippi or of a South American cougars that have escaped from or been released from captivity.

The eastern cougar doesn't include the Florida panther, a separate subspecies, whose numbers have dwindled to just 120 animals in southwest Florida.  Their historic range was the southeast US, but now occupy less than 5% of their historic range.

According to Dr. Mark McCollough, the Service’s lead scientist for the eastern cougar, the subspecies of eastern cougar has likely been extinct since the 1930s.

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