Eastern cougars once roamed every U.S. state east of the Mississippi, but it has been eight decades since the last confirmed sighting of the animal. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has officially declared the subspecies extinct and removed it from the U.S. endangered species list.

The decision, announced Monday, is the result of years of deliberation. The agency conducted an extensive review of the eastern cougar in 2011, and recommended it be removed from the endangered and threatened species list in 2015, Reuters reported. The species, also known as pumas, are the genetic cousins of mountain lions in the Western United States and of Florida panthers, which are now found only in the Everglades.

There is “no evidence of the existence of either an extant reproducing population or any individuals of the eastern puma subspecies,” the announcement in the Federal Register said. “It is also highly unlikely that an eastern puma population could remain undetected since the last confirmed sighting in 1938.”

Cougars were common throughout eastern North America until the late 1800s, when their populations began to drastically decline as forests and prey disappeared and European settlers killed them to protect their livestock and families, according to the FWS.

Conservation groups said the decision clears the way for eastern states to rebuild cougar populations in habitats such as the Adirondacks and White Mountains using mountain lions from the U.S. West.

Western mountain lions are confirmed to have occasionally ventured as far east as Connecticut, with reported sightings even further in Maine.

Eastern states “need large carnivores like cougars to keep the wild food web healthy,” Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “[They] would curb deer overpopulation and tick-borne diseases that threaten human health.”


Responses to "Cougars Officially Declared Extinct in Eastern U.S., Removed from Endangered Species List"

  1. Unknown says:

    So many animals not around anymore and its sad. So that these people are going to help the situation is a good thing

  2. Anonymous says:

    That is such a DAMN shame. They are so beautiful.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Seems like an incredible waste of money for these people to do all this research and deliberations...

  4. Unknown says:

    Depressing. These cats are the only feline predator in the US (minus bobcats and 1 sole Jaguar in Arizona) which can combat deer overpopulation.

  5. Annemarie McKenny says:

    Sad. Hopefully there will be success in re-building their populations in the east... Fingers crossed.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Not Extinct, they just moved away from the lame progressive states for more open and free states. , PS, feel free to take the ones that keep showing up on the edge of school grounds every year in British Columbia Canada. It is the same species.

  7. Anonymous says:

    They obviously didn't check with anyone in upper East Tennessee near the KY, TN, VA border - in the Cumberland Mountains - Cumberland Gap area - Campbell County, Claiborne County, TN, Bell Co, KY. They are there and have been seen by many people. Also have been picked up by wildlife cams. they need to do more work before making such a ridiculous statement.

  8. Unknown says:

    Had one in Columbia County NY two years ago. DEC told us it was a Bobcat however once it got up from the supine position the tail was very long and the coloration was not that of a Bobcat which we see frequently up here.

  9. Unknown says:

    we need to protect all animal species in the world from people that want a wall mount . they are living breathing beings on this earth that is not just ours but their's as well. and GOD put them here for a reason and they do help keep us safe and well and control other species populations so we don't need to . keep them safe and out of a gun's sight and we all would be better off. so sorry for them Cougars were so beautiful and Majestic beings

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