The eastern cougar has just been declared extinct. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has recommended that it be taken off the endangered list as no extinct species should appear on it. This beautiful, tawny colored cat is also known as a catamount, puma or mountain lion. Last seen in 1930, all other sightings have turned out to be South American cats released by people after being bought as pets. The eastern cougar had a range of 21 states, none of which it exists in now. In the 1700s and 1800s it was hunted, with bounties put on its head.
There is a little bit of hope, an asterisk if you might, after the news of the cougar’s extinction. Scientists did a genetic study and believe that it is possible that it was wrongly classified as a subspecies of the western cougar. If that is the case, they could perhaps be reintroduced. But as it stands now, driven to extinction by hunting throughout its vast range, there is no longer an eastern cougar in the 21 eastern states.
“It’s extinct,” said Mark McCollough, a wildlife biologist with the FWS’s offices in Maine, referring to the official determination by his agency. “But it’s not?” he was asked. “But it’s not,” he confirmed. “It may well return to part of its range.”