What Is Being Done to Save the Eastern Cougar?


Quick Answer

Nothing is being done to save the eastern cougar. The eastern cougar, originally listed as endangered in 1973, was named extinct in 2011, though no confirmed sightings occurred after the 1930s, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

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Full Answer

Once ranging over 21 states, reported sightings of the eastern cougar subspecies since the 1930s turned out to be either South American subspecies released or escaped from captivity, or wild western cougars that had migrated to the Midwest. An extensive 2011 review conducted by the USFWS concluded that none of the states native to the eastern cougar believed it existed and that the cougar most likely has been extinct since the 1930s. The last known eastern cougar was trapped in Maine in 1938. The large cat was driven to extinction by hunting because the cougar was a threat to livestock and animal populations, such as deer, which humans wanted to hunt.

Another eastern U.S. cat protected as an endangered species is the Florida panther. The USFWS estimates that fewer than 160 panthers remain in the wild, primarily in southwest Florida. Once ranging throughout the Southeast U.S., the Florida panther exists in less than 5 percent of its original habitat. The western cougar remains on the endangered species list. Under the Endangered Species Act, the USFWS must review each animal on the protected list every five years.

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