The cougar, puma, or mountain lion is associated with nature reserves in the Rocky Mountains and the Andes Mountains – in the western regions of North and South America. Well into the 20th century there was however also an eastern subspecies, that roamed 21 states in the US.
Wednesday the US Fish and Wildlife agency declared the eastern cougar extinct. It had been on the endangered species list since 1973, but the last official sighting dates from the thirties. Years of field work by the agency, in the Appalachians and elsewhere, failed to spot living specimen.
With the eastern cougar gone the last big indigenous wild cat in the eastern US is the Florida panther, that is also a cougar subspecies. The Florida panther has already lost 95% of its original habitat, with now only 120 to 160 animals remaining in one single population in the southwest of Florida State.
© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org