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Posts Tagged ‘catamount’

This dog-killing cougar was the first killed in Ontario since 1884.

Police in Ontario have killed the first cougar in the province since 1884. The cat was killed in near the town of Utterson, which is in the District of Muskoka.

The Ottawa Sun reports:

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources have confirmed that an animal killed by police on the weekend is a cougar, long believed extinct in the province.

Police were called after the large cat killed a family dog in the Muskoka area.

There have been thousands of believed sightings of cougars in Ontario over the past few years, but this marks the first confirmed cougar killed in the province since 1884.

North of the Rio Grande, Puma concolor is doing fine.

It’s starting to work its way back into its former territory in the eastern half the continent.

Once they start to recolonize the Great Lakes region– as they clearly are– it will not be very long before they are able to set up shop in the St. Lawrence Valley and then work their way south and east into New England.  And from there, it’s not very long before they are in the Middle Atlantic states, especially the more remote mountainous parts of those states (which is where I am.)

Western cougars may be using the same paths to colonize the East that coyotes used.

The terrain is fairly flat from Lakes Superior and Michigan the eastern shore of Lake Eire and into Lake Ontario.  And the St. Lawrence also cuts a nice pathway to the east beyond the lakes.

It would make sense that lots of animals would use roughly the same path to travel from the Midwest into the Northeast.

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Update: It looks like this cat is an escapee from a big cat collection just across the road.

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From Outdoor News:

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has received photographic evidence of the presence of a cougar in Vernon Parish.

A private citizen sent LDWF a trail camera picture taken Aug. 13, 2011. LDWF Large Carnivore Program Manager Maria Davidson and biologist Brandon Wear conducted a site investigation that confirmed the authenticity of the photograph.

“It is quite possible for this animal to be captured on other trail cameras placed at deer bait sites,” Davidson said. “Deer are the primary prey item for cougars; therefore, they are drawn to areas where deer congregate.”

It is unlikely this cougar will remain in any one area longer than it would take to consume a kill. Cougars do not prefer to eat spoiled meat and will move on as soon as the Louisiana heat and humidity take its toll on the kill.

“It is impossible to determine if the animal in the photograph is a wild, free-ranging cougar, or an escaped captive,” Davidson added. “Although it is illegal to own a cougar in Louisiana, it is possible that there are some illegally held ‘pets’ in the state.”

LDWF has documented several occurrences since 2002. The first cougar sighting was in 2002 by an employee at Lake Fausse Point State Park. That sighting was later confirmed with DNA analysis from scat found at the site. Three trail camera photos were taken of a cougar in Winn, Vernon and Allen parishes in 2008. Subsequently on Nov. 30, 2008, a cougar was shot and killed in a neighborhood by Bossier City Police Department.

The mountain lion, cougar, panther or puma are names that all refer to the same animal. Their color ranges from lighter tan to brownish grey. The only species of big cats that occur as black are the jaguar and leopard. Jaguars are native to South America and leopards are native to Africa. Both species can occur as spotted or black, although in both cases the spotted variety is much more common. Although LDWF receives numerous calls about black panthers, there has never been a documented case of a black cougar anywhere in North America.

The vast majority of these reports received by LDWF cannot be verified due to the very nature of a sighting. Many of the calls are determined to be cases of mistaken identity, with dog tracks making up the majority of the evidence submitted by those reporting cougar sightings. Other animals commonly mistaken for cougars are bobcats and house cats, usually seen from a distance or in varying shades of light.

The significant lack of physical evidence indicates that Louisiana does not have an established, breeding population of cougars. In states that have verified small populations of cougars, physical evidence can readily be found in the form of tracks, cached deer kills, scat and road kills.

The recent sightingsof cougars in Louisiana are believed to be young animals dispersing from existing populations. An expanding population in Texas can produce dispersing individual cougars that move into suitable habitat in Louisiana. Young males are known to disperse from their birthplace and travel hundreds of miles seeking their own territories.

Cougars that occur in Louisiana are protected under state and federal law. Penalties for taking a cougar in Louisiana may include up to one year in jail and/or a $100,000 fine. Anyone with any information regarding the taking of a cougar should call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511. Callers may remain anonymous and may receive a cash reward.

This really shouldn’t be surprising.

A cougar with origins in South Dakota was recently found run over in Connecticut.

West Virginia now recognizes this species as native wildlife that one might encounter, even though no wild cougars have been confirmed in the state.

This is one large cat species– which is not a true “big cat”– that is not going to become extinct.

At least north of Mexico.

South of Mexico and into Central and South America, the future is less clear.

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