USFWS Officially Declares Eastern Cougar Extinct

GON Staff | April 23, 2011

If you’ve seen a big tawny cat in the Georgia woods, chances are it wasn’t an eastern cougar, especially considering the recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that the animal is extinct. Eastern cougar, western cougar or Florida panther, GON is still seeking evidence of big, long-tailed cats in Georgia. The deadline for submission of evidence in Cougar Quest is May 1, 2001.

Although USFWS scientists say eastern cougars may have been extirpated from the East since the 1930s, the cats were placed on the endangered species list in 1973. Federal researchers have been searching for them ever since. Not one eastern cougar has been found. The cat was thought to be a sub-species of cougar distinct from western cougars, but now there is a growing body of genetic evidence suggesting all North American cougars are of the same sub-species, including the one remaining recognized pocket of reproducing cats in the East known as Florida panthers.

The USFWS is readying a proposal to remove the eastern cougar from the endangered species list. This will not change the protected status of Florida panthers.

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