Eastern Mountain Lion Officially Declared Extinct

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Eastern mountain lion officially declared extinct

The Eastern mountain lion is on the verge of being proclaimed officially extinct, yet one scientist from New Brunswick is of the opinion that the magestic cat never existed in the first place.

The lion was first placed on the endangered species list way back in 1976, and the last confirmed siting of one was way back in 1938.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service they will be removing the eastern mountain lion from the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife because the animal is already extinct.

They stated that they will be “correcting a lingering anomaly that listed the species, despite it likely having gone extinct many decades before the Endangered Species Act was even enacted.”

“While confirmed cougar sightings have occurred recently in the wild in the East, there is currently no scientific or physical evidence documenting the continued existence of a population of wild eastern cougars,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The cougars examined in the Northeast in the past 70 years are likely released or escaped captives. Some cats had a South American genetic profile. Some may be animals that dispersed into the region from western populations. Confirmed cougar sightings have increased in the Midwest and Great Lakes states in recent years.”

Mark McCullough, a biologist with the U.S. service in Maine, says that the step could no longer be avoided.

“We’ve lost a species of wildlife that once occurred here,” McCullough said Monday. “That’s something none of us are very pleased about.

“But we do have to acknowledge that it has occurred.”

Did it even exist?

Don McAlpine, the research curator of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum, believes that it just perpetuates poor science to remove the animal from a list that it should never have even been on in the first place.

“It perpetuates a public perception that New Brunswick once supported a northeastern unique population of cougar,” he said. 

“And secondly, there may never have been a resident population of cougar in New Brunswick anyway, regardless of whether it was eastern or anything else,” he said.

The eastern mountain lion, whether it existed or not was one of 11 subspecies of  mountain lions native to North America.

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Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca


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