Eastern Cougar Officially Declared Extinct | No Sightings for 80-Years

Steven Agar |
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Officially extinct in the east, although that could actually be a good thing. Credit: FACANV/SHUTTERSTOCK

The eastern cougar has just been declared officially extinct. This Monday the eastern cougar was removed from the Endangered Species Act, of which it had been on since 1973, and declared extinct, reports iflscience.com. It is thought the last one was likely shot by hunters in 1938.

The big cat (Puma concolor cougar) used to populate the forests, mountains, and grasslands in every state east of the Mississippi. There has not been an official sighting of the cat in the last 80 years. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) opened up a review into the status of the mountain lion in 2011, but it was only in 2015 that federal wildlife biologists finally concluded there is no evidence of a viable population left.

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Here kitty kitty. Credit: petersenshunting.com

The official declaration of the extinction of the cougar could actually be a positive thing. It means that the states that have been prevented for decades from reintroducing animals from the western population should now be allowed to do so.

According to a recent paper detailing these benefits, cougars are good for human health in more ways than one. Not only do they reduce the number of ticks by killing deer, but they also save lives by reducing deer-car collisions. In fact, if pumas were reintroduced across the US, it is estimated that collisions from deer-car incidents would likely be slashed by 22 percent, saving 115 people and preventing over 21,000 accidents. This would potentially save the economy an impressive $2.12 billion.

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