Mountain Lions Roaring Back in the United States
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Types of Animals
The mountain lion (Puma concolor), North America's largest breeding wild cat, goes by different names, including cougars and pumas and Florida Panther.
Males can grow up to eight feet in length and can weigh over one hundred pounds. Their coat is typically a uniform color of brown, tan or burnt orange.
Mountain lion populations in the United States have been stable since the 1960s.
It's hard to keep a cool cat down.
After a century of being relegated to living in wilderness areas of the Western United States, the mountain lion, the largest, and arguably the most magnificent of the native wild cats is making a big comeback across the United States.
Mountain lions, or cougars or pumas as they are also called, once roamed the entire continental United States. Their East Coast and Midwest populations were decimated in the nineteenth century to make room for western human expansion.
In January 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopted a Mark Twain approach to the eastern mountain lion, by assuming they might have been prematurely declared extinct. They announced a status review which promised to bring clarity to the status of the big cat in the east.
Upon completion of the review, on March 2, 2011 the USFWS declared the eastern mountain lion extinct, saying,
"Although the eastern cougar has been on the endangered species list since 1973, its existence has long been questioned. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) conducted a formal review of the available information and, in a report issued today, concludes the eastern cougar is extinct and recommends the subspecies be removed from the endangered species list."
Lion fans need not fear a USFWS review that confirms the absence of a breeding population of eastern mountain lions.
Consider the research of the Cougar Network. They state that, "Western cougar populations have been increasing since the 1960s, largely due to increased legal protection for the cats and to the growth and expansion of prey populations."
The network also continues to document current mountain lion expansion into the Midwest.
With a little determination, mountain lions will eventually find their way back east. Go Lions.
© 2007-2011. Patricia A. Michaels