In what perhaps is sad news for wildlife conservationists, The US Fish and Wildlife Service declared the Eastern Cougar officially extinct. The Eastern cougar is likely a subspecies of Mountain Lions and it was for the last 38 years in the Endangered Species List (ESA).
The animal was once found roaming the eastern parts of USA and though its sighting was reported regularly, no confirmed sighting was made since the 1930s. Officials also believe that the sighting may have been that of cougars but not specifically the Eastern cougar.
“We recognize that many people have seen cougars in the wild within the historical range of the eastern cougar. However, we believe those cougars are not the eastern cougar subspecies. We found no information to support the existence of the eastern cougar,” explained the Service’s Northeast Region Chief of Endangered Species Martin Miller.
The experts also think that possible sightings may have been that of the western mountain lion expanding its territory or an escaped pet.
The remaining subspecies of the cougar in US are, North American cougar, inhabiting the western US, and the Florida panther, consider Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, and surviving only in a few protected areas in Florida.
The complete disappearance of the Eastern cougar adds to the list of mega fauna already extinct in the US in recent times. These include, Eastern elk and Merriam’s elk extinct in late 19th century, the California golden bear vanished in the 1920s, Mexican grizzly bear extinct in the 1960s and a number of subspecies of wolf.