Eastern Cougar Extinct

Posted by: acdnyc

Eastern Cougar Extinct - 03/02/11 08:27 PM

This was an old topic but I guess it is now dead.



http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/02/eastern-cougar-extinct-mo_n_830181.html
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 03/03/11 01:41 AM

The longer AP version includes ecology points formerly discussed here.

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press – Wed Mar 2, 4:04 pm ET

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The "ghost cat" is just that.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday declared the eastern cougar to be extinct, confirming a widely held belief among wildlife biologists that native populations of the big cat were wiped out by man a century ago.

After a lengthy review, federal officials concluded there are no breeding populations of cougars — also known as pumas, panthers, mountain lions and catamounts — in the eastern United States. Researchers believe the eastern cougar subspecies has probably been extinct since the 1930s.

Wednesday's declaration paves the way for the eastern cougar to be removed from the endangered species list, where it was placed in 1973. The agency's decision to declare the eastern cougar extinct does not affect the status of the Florida panther, another endangered wildcat.

Some hunters and outdoors enthusiasts have long insisted there's a small breeding population of eastern cougars, saying the secretive cats have simply eluded detection — hence the "ghost cat" moniker. The wildlife service said Wednesday it confirmed 108 sightings between 1900 and 2010, but that these animals either escaped or were released from captivity, or migrated from western states to the Midwest.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service fully believes that some people have seen cougars, and that was an important part of the review that we did," said Mark McCollough, an endangered species biologist who led the agency's eastern cougar study. "We went on to evaluate where these animals would be coming from."

A breeding population of eastern cougars would almost certainly have left evidence of its existence, he said. Cats would have been hit by cars or caught in traps, left tracks in the snow or turned up on any of the hundreds of thousands of trail cameras that dot Eastern forests.

But researchers have come up empty.

The private Eastern Cougar Foundation, for example, spent a decade looking for evidence. Finding none, it changed its name to the Cougar Rewilding Foundation last year and shifted its focus from confirming sightings to advocating for the restoration of the big cat to its pre-colonial habitat.

"We would have loved nothing more than for there to be a remnant wild population of cougars on the East Coast," said Christopher Spatz, the foundation's president. "We're not seeing (evidence) because they're not here."

Others maintain that wild cougars still prowl east of the Mississippi.

Ray Sedorchuk, 45, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, said he got an excellent look at a cougar last June in rural Bradford County, in northern Pennsylvania. He was in his truck when a reddish-brown animal with a long tail crossed the road. He said he jammed on the brakes, and the cougar stopped in its tracks.

"I could see the body, the tail and the head, the entire animal, perfectly. It's not a bobcat, it's not a housecat, it's a cougar," he said. "It's a sleek animal. It ran low to the ground and stealth-like. It moved with elegance."

Sedorchuk, a freelance writer who spends copious amounts of time in the woods, said he'd always been skeptical of the eastern cougar's existence, even as two of his friends insisted to him that they had seen them in the wild.

And now?

"I believe that they're here, without even thinking twice about it," he said. "I believe there aren't that many, but there are enough where they can get together and breed."

Once widely dispersed throughout the eastern United States, the mountain lion was all but wiped out by the turn of the last century. Cougars were killed in vast numbers, and states even held bounties. A nearly catastrophic decline in white-tailed deer — the main prey of mountain lions — also contributed to the species' extirpation.

McCollough said the last wild cougar was believed to have been killed in Maine in 1938.

The wildlife service treated the eastern cougar as a distinct subspecies, even though some biologists now believe it is genetically the same as its western brethren, which is increasing in number and extending its range. Some experts believe that mountain lions will eventually make their way back East.

The loss of a top-level predator like the cougar has had ecological consequences, including an explosion in the deer population and a corresponding decline in the health of Eastern forests.

"Our ecosystems are collapsing up and down the East Coast, and they're collapsing because we have too many white-tailed deer," said Spatz. "Our forests are not being permitted to regenerate."

Cougars and wolves, he said, would thin the deer herd through direct predation while also acting as "natural shepherds," forcing deer to become more vigilant and "stop browsing like cattle."

Spatz's group would like the federal government to reintroduce cougars and wolves to the eastern United States, though he acknowledged any such plan would come up against fierce resistance.

The wildlife service said Wednesday it has no authority under the Endangered Species Act to reintroduce the mountain lion to the East.
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 03/03/11 01:46 AM

CBD's take.

Eastern Cougar Declared Officially Extinct;
Florida Panther Still Has a Chance If Reintroduced to Okefenokee

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today declared the eastern cougar, a subspecies of the puma or mountain lion, extinct following a status review that could not authenticate any records of the animal since the last confirmed individual was killed in 1938 in Maine. Only one other subspecies of puma from the eastern United States — the Florida panther — survives. Florida panthers once ranged throughout the Southeast, but are now besieged by sprawl in a single, remnant population in South Florida.

"Official confirmation of the eastern cougar's extinction is a belated warning that our ecosystems are out of whack, as many a backyard gardener finds out when confronted with damage by voracious deer," said Michael Robinson, with the Center for Biological Diversity. "But we still have a chance to recover the Florida panther by saving habitat in its current range and reintroducing the animal to its historic range. If we can do that, we'll help restore nature's balance at the same time."

On Feb. 10, 2011, the Center petitioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to reintroduce Florida panthers to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding lands in south Georgia and north Florida. Reintroduction is called for in the 2008 Florida panther recovery plan, but the Fish and Wildlife Service is stalling in carrying it out. Three studies — one based on GIS computer mapping and two involving Texas pumas that were introduced into the wild as surrogates for Florida panthers, then removed after years of careful monitoring — identified the Okefenokee refuge and surrounding lands as suitable for reintroduction.

Reintroduction of Florida panthers would also help curb feral hog consumption of sensitive native plants. The hogs are nonnative and eat the saplings of longleaf pines that were planted on the refuge to help restore a forest that has been reduced to just 3 percent of its original range. Panthers prey on hogs, and would therefore help to restore a forest ecosystem upon which many other endangered animals rely.

"It is still not too late for the Florida panther," said Robinson. "To save the panther in its existing range, the Interior Department must designate critical habitat. To recover the panther and bring back the vanishing longleaf pine forest where panthers used to roam, reintroduction to the greater Okefenokee ecosystem is essential."

Today also marks the two-year anniversary of the killing of the last known wild American jaguar, Macho B, who was euthanized on March 2, 2009, after a bungled snaring operation by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Posted by: chazman

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/11/11 06:42 PM

http://brookfield.patch.com/articles/suv-kills-mountain-lion-in-milford

Bummer running into an extinct animal smile
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/12/11 05:30 PM

The stomach/intestine contents, the fat layer, the parasite load, the wear on its pads and teeth, the DNA and whether it has been declawed/tattooed will determine where it's from.

I polled the audience before a talk I gave in CT on Friday night on whether folks thought reports of the Greenwich cat might be of a wild cougar, a DEP release, a former captive or a misidentification of another animal. Even splits between the first three; a handful thought it might be something else.

Four hours later, the cat was dead, having negotiated 35 miles of one of the nastiest urban corridors in the northeast.

Amazing.
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/13/11 01:42 PM

Please let us know what you learn. I don't know how many puma are needed in how dense an area to get a sustainable population going. I expect at least a few hundred kitty cats would be needed.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 01:28 AM

Originally Posted By: chip
. I expect at least a few hundred kitty cats would be needed.

The recent sightings and death of a mountain lion in Ct. piqued my curiosity. I found this website http://www.uwsp.edu/wildlife/carnivore/Mountain%20Lion%20PVA_files/Mountain%20Lion%20PVA_copy(1).htm
and they discuss what would be necessary to re-establish a viable mountain lion population in Wisconsin. They figure the state's carrying capacity at 125 animals with a 2:1 male female ratio. Population numbers lower than 50 would result in 0 population in 100 years. I'm no field biologist, and won't draw any conclusions from the report. But, I'd be interested in knowing what the carrying capacity of NYS, Ct or other New England states might be.
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 02:15 AM

Our VP just completed a habitat assessment for the Daks, which he thinks can support at least 300 cougars. When he submitted it for publication, one of the reviewers suggested he didn't need buffers around buildings and settlements (the reviewer had studied cougars in SoCal for more than a decade, where we learned that they're about as adaptable as coyotes), that it's all cougar habitat. The male/female ratio in situ is about 1:4. Wisconsin can certainly handle more than 125.

California supports about 5,000, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/images/lion_map.png
(the white areas, about 1/3 of the state, isn't any good) in area and human population comparable to ME, NH, VT, NY, PA and WV combined. We've got more deer and cover, so NY might be able to support as many as 1,000. The Catskills are about the same area as the Big Cypress Swamp in southern Florida, which supports 120-150 panthers.

Maybe a half dozen for the northern Gunks, including the basins on either side. Man, does that notion pique the wodwo in me.

Update on the CT cat. Nails in tact. No tattoos. Fit, not fat as if it had been caged or penned, so no superficial signs of obvious captivity. The necropsy will tell more.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 12:34 PM

Yorick, thanks for the info and the update on CT's big cat.

I bet fewer folks would be letting their dogs off the leash when out and about the woods, should the time ever come when a major predator returns east in higher numbers.

Personally, I've mixed feelings about the success of various species in coming back in such numbers. I very much enjoy the fact that ospreys, eagles, peregrines, even coyotes are returning in such numbers, but whoa, wait, now I'm going to be sharing the woods year round with >200 lb cougars? I've only just gotten use to all the copperheads in the talus, and besides, I hate cats! wink
Posted by: Mim

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 02:04 PM

We need a predator to control the deer population - I think. Hunting is not enough. But ditto about the uneasy feeling of being down the food chain...
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 03:26 PM

Thinking of deer and predators.

Years ago, we'd hear the coyotes off to the west around Sam's Point and vicinity. Now, we hear them from all points of the compass. I'm sure that has something to do with the fact that I've seen far fewer fawns around, as well as deer in general here in the Pine Bush area. Though a neighbor refuses to stop feeding the damn things, the herd this winter was much smaller than years past.

It's about time I've seen my rhodies bloom.
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 03:54 PM

I got up one foggy, still dark early morning and exited the tent from my buddy's back yard across from the Brown elementary school on Rt. 32. I was relieving myself when I noticed two pair of eyeballs in the brush line. I assumed deer, which often roam that corridor and snapped on the headlamp to see a very healthy pair of coyotes darting away. This is a neighborhood, very near to where Mim lives, and I am no longer surprised to find them anywhere one might expect to find a fox. Yorick knows far better than I do and has stated coyotes are not effective enough to control the deer, but if they can take down a fawn it can't hurt the situation. At least they aren't very likely to go after human food and got the groundhog terrorist in my buddy's garden!
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 04:04 PM

Wait a minute Chip. If we allow the groundhog population to get killed off, will we never see the arrival of spring?
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 06:53 PM

Rickster, surely you would enjoy deep pow in the tres and fat ice lines all year?
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/16/11 09:51 PM

More the pow than the ice these past years, but even that gets old. Variety is the secret.
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 02:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Mim
We need a predator to control the deer population - I think. Hunting is not enough. But ditto about the uneasy feeling of being down the food chain...


How come no one worries about climbing in the Needles, Eldo, City of Rocks, Zion, Tuolumne, Smith, etc teeming with cats?

And the threat is over-sensationalized: 22 deaths in 120 years. We're so far down that food chain, it's about as likely as being taken out by a chunk of meteor.

Cougars won't control the deer population (nothing short of a massive cull will do that now), they'll move 'em around enough to release browsing pressure and get regeneration going again,

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-10/osu-cpk102406.php

http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2008/apr/loss-cougars-linked-disruption-yosemite-ecosystem



Posted by: talus

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 11:24 AM

i told you a long time ago cougars were here.
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 11:45 AM

Originally Posted By: talus
i told you a long time ago cougars were here.


Actually, the fact that eastern forests/ecosystems are collapsing is the ultimate evidence of their absence.
Posted by: talus

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 12:54 PM

getting hit by a car in CT is hard evidence that they are here. but heck i have paw print photo from what 4 years ago. just bc you don't know how find them does not mean they don't exist here.
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 03:16 PM

Heck, a well experienced cougar tracker was after our local fella for over six months at least 5-6 nights a week with the latest night vision goggles and only got two good looks at it. Both were through enough brush that he couldn't even get off a shot with the tranquilizer. If they don't want to be seen, they won't be.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 04:07 PM

The Mountain Lion Foundation's (acronym, MLF) website at http://www.mountainlion.org/tracks.asp has good info on recognizing cougar sign such as foot prints, scat, walking patterns and scratch marks etc.

So, lets all keep our eyes open as we tramp about the ridge, and see if we can notice some
cougar action west of New Paltz.
Posted by: talus

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 04:28 PM


this was the size of my hand
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 05:07 PM

John, looks about right, at least as far as the age of the print and photography conditions allow. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 06:26 PM

Originally Posted By: talus
but heck i have paw print photo from what 4 years ago. just bc you don't know how find them does not mean they don't exist here.


Now, now, no need for that.

We've been over this track. I was up there looking at them in situ. John and Hank looked at it. It's canine. Your average cougar print is 3.5" x 3". Smaller than the palm of your hand.

I had remote cams up at Minnewaska and the Preserve for three years: no pics, no tracks, no scat, no deer kills with cougar signatures. Pics and tracks of everything else.

A dozen reports in the Clove over five years. I walk that creek four/five times a week once it snows and freezes over. Your average cougar leaves between 10,000 - 20,000 prints every day. I found one den, cat scat, and some cat tracks in the Clove in five years: bobcat.

The foundation (including cougar researchers with decades of experience) ran sanctioned cam surveys in seven states. We spent tens of thousands of hours on the ground following up reports. The foundation solicited pics of reported cougars from Nova Scotia to Mississippi for twelves years. We got twelve years of pics of bobcats, housecats, dogs and deer, and track pics of canines and bears. We got hoax pics from cougars taken out west.

Not one piece of cougar evidence in twelve years. And not just us. No state wildlife agencies, no researchers studying bobcats, coyotes, bear, fisher or deer have found any collateral cougar evidence, either. Two NY state agencies and two universities collaborated on a massive Daks carnivore study using cams and track traps at 52 locations. They analyzed 660 scats. No cougars.

The Smithsonian has run an exhaustive cam-study along the AT in Virginia for three years. No cougars.

Wisconsin hadn't had a confirmation in a century. They've IDd four individual males through DNA in three years matched to DNA from the Black Hills.

15 are hit every year in southern Florida.

You don't need to be able to find them. That's the point, wherever they live, even in the lowest densities, they appear without anyone having to look for them: hit, shot, treed, wandering into towns and cities, photographed on random remote cams (300,000 sold commercially every year; they're in every hunter's backyard or favorite hunting spot) and on cell phones from tree stands.

http://www.cougarnet.org/totalus.html

One confirmation east of Michigan and north of Georgia in eleven years proves only that there was one cat here.

I wish you much luck, gentlemen. Please give a head's up should you find anything.
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 06:39 PM

Thanks Yorick. I was wondering if you have any access to credible info about the northern Delaware cougar, which is growing bolder every year. Almost weekly one of my patients tells me it was seen and photographed at the door of the local supermarket, prowling behind a neighborhood or running across the street when they came home at 1 AM. The reports now center around White Clay Creek state park and the surrounding areas and I have not seen any sign of it further north in Brandywine Creek S.P. for several winters. Recently those making sightings are describing two different appearing cats, one smaller and lighter colored than had been seen previously. The state isn't talking. Thanks in advance.
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 06:48 PM

No word.

That reported evidence from the Delaware agency was never peer-reviewed, so the Cougar Network took it off the map.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 06:49 PM

Yorick, all those facts. What a buzz kill. Thank you for setting it all straight and please share anything further you hear regarding the CT cat inquires.

Now what can you tell us about the jackalope and hootenanny sighted in the woods south of the New Paltz campus? RC
Posted by: talus

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 07:18 PM

i was rasied in a family of hunters, that was not a canine track sorry but you are wrong. crackers buddy a wildlife expert identified it as a cougar track and so did Tom Brown. your facts are a bunch of dudes that sit behind a desk. how come i never see anyone coming out of the woods at night or before sunrise. How do you think i get all those photos? think what you want i know what's out there
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 08:01 PM

Be well, John. And good luck.
Posted by: talus

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 08:12 PM

i remember a day i was up at skytop we were on a trail that is closed. i could hear you coming from a mile away.
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/17/11 08:25 PM

Breaking in my new boots, doing a crag survey of invasive plants.

Be well.
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/18/11 02:41 AM

Perhaps my habit of releasing the carbonation from the previous evenings beverages while hiking is preventing me from finally seeing Bigfoot!?!
Before the topic dies, my son's bio teacher (northern Utah) sets motion cameras in the Uintas throughout much of the year. He gets shots of cougar fairly regularly (but no Bigfoot yet). Obviously we don't have a dense population of cougar on the ridge but would still expect one to get caught occaisionally if there were any. A negative result is not solid proof but does help to build a case.
Posted by: Mike Rawdon

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/18/11 11:38 AM

Originally Posted By: chip
Perhaps my habit of releasing the carbonation from the previous evenings beverages while hiking is preventing me from finally seeing Bigfoot!?!
Before the topic dies, my son's bio teacher (northern Utah) sets motion cameras in the Uintas throughout much of the year. He gets shots of cougar fairly regularly (but no Bigfoot yet). Obviously we don't have a dense population of cougar on the ridge but would still expect one to get caught occaisionally if there were any. A negative result is not solid proof but does help to build a case.


"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".
Posted by: oenophore

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/18/11 01:44 PM

Nah, the abundance of cougars severely limits the bigfoot population.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/18/11 02:15 PM

These cats just don't know they're supposed to be extinct. This morning's paper reports continuing multiple sightings of mountain lions in the Greenwich Ct. area, even after the death of last week's lone critter. Or was it....?
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/18/11 05:09 PM

Circus train wreck effect. Cluster sightings go exponential anytime there's a confirmation outside the breeding populations.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/18/11 06:15 PM

Oh, I know about those cluster sightings. I live in Pine Bush, Orange Cty. The east coast's version of Area 51. I'm the only one on my block to have not been abducted by ET or stared down by Gort.

"Klaatu barada nikto."
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/18/11 09:48 PM

Which begs the question, how do you prove you were not abducted? Exactly.
I vote that we send Ranger Rob out to find the critter. You're trained in that stuff, right?
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/19/11 10:11 AM

One traveling scat-sniffing trained dog could put the entire question of cougar (or alien) presence to bed.

http://easterncougar.org/CougarNews/?p=3813

http://easterncougar.org/CougarNews/?p=3829
Posted by: oenophore

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/19/11 10:19 AM

How does one train a dog to detect bigfoot scat?
Posted by: RangerRob

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/19/11 06:59 PM

I saw several cougars standing in line for the Bistro this morning when I drove through town. They've also been known to frequent Starbucks.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/19/11 07:23 PM

Members of MLF* no doubt.


*Mountain Lion Foundation
Posted by: acdnyc

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/21/11 02:15 AM

Hey Yorick,
Thanks for all the info.

A little off topic, but I worked for the NRDC not to long ago and they were trying to save the wolves out west.

They explained how reinstating the wolf had rebalanced the area. Less coyotes, healthier populations of deer, elk, etc.

To bad congress took them off the endangered list this year. Now they will be hunted down by Sarah Palin in her helicopter while she uses a machine gun. :-(
Posted by: yorick

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 06/21/11 10:10 PM

Yeah, Tester from Montana attached a rider to the spending bill delisting wolves from the ESA. That's a first.
Posted by: GOclimb

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 07/14/11 07:48 PM

So yorick what'd they find in the dead cougar's belly?

GO
Posted by: Chas

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 07/26/11 02:12 PM

Originally Posted By: RangerRob
I saw several cougars standing in line for the Bistro this morning when I drove through town. They've also been known to frequent Starbucks.


Depends on the age of the Cougar you know..... Some like younger prey then the offerings at Starbucks and can often be seen lurking at other establishment......

I don't see that subspecies of the Eastern Cougar (not to be confused with the Miami, or LA Cougar) in becoming extinct in the near future even though they aren't procreating at a significant rate. But not for their lack of trying though......
Posted by: chip

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 07/26/11 02:13 PM

Beware of the sort hanging around comic book shops!
Posted by: empicard

Re: Eastern Cougar Extinct - 07/26/11 09:36 PM

http://www.middletownpress.com/articles/...wmode=fullstory
Posted by: Smike

Re: Cougar - Case finally closed... - 07/27/11 12:39 AM

So that ends that whole argument... case closed.

Its funny I would have never guessed that Conn would be the first state to actually nab one in the flesh.


http://www.middletownpress.com/articles/...wmode=fullstory
Posted by: yorick

Re: Cougar - Case finally closed... - 07/27/11 01:18 AM

The irony is that we were writing letters to the Twin Cities press and MN DNR not to kill the cat (they put out an ABP to shoot on sight though it hadn't done anything) as he moved through the suburbs.

http://easterncougar.org/CougarNews/?p=1223

Fortunately, it crossed into WI, where it was tracked for another two months before they lost track of it and appeared to be on its way back to MN,

http://easterncougar.org/CougarNews/?p=2179

If he'd found a female during any of the 2000 mile trek, he would have stopped.