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M A 49 R CH 3, 18 Eastern concolor couguar

Ghost . Catamount. . Painter. usually do not chase down their the East by the late 1800s. At the same Panther. Mountain . Cougar. The many prey, but stalk and ambush; a cougar may time, much of their was eliminated names given the nation's largest cat leap as far as 20 feet onto a 's back through deforestation, which, along with convey the mystery surrounding this and can kill an with one bite to the , also reduced the population and solitary hunter. But the variety of names neck. One cougar consumes a deer every range of white-tailed deer. Although the also demonstrates the cougar's original week to 10 days, or more frequently if a and the deer have returned in the distribution across the North American female is feeding cubs. Cougars have no East in recent decades, conflicting land continent and from southern to natural enemies, only . uses, fragmented habitat, roads, the tip of . and parasites from domestic , and Cougars are mostly lone animals, except expanding populations will likely Once the most widely distributed land for mothers raising cubs and the time a prevent cougars from returning to most of in the , pair spends together while . Males their former range. Habitat able to cougars have been eliminated in most of may occupy a range of more than 25 support small populations may still occur their native habitat. Only western cougars square miles and females between 5 and in some of the larger undeveloped tracts still live in large enough numbers to 20 square miles. Both females and males of in the East. maintain breeding populations, and they defend home territories. Cougars begin live on wild lands in the western United breeding at two or three old and Cougars in the Western Hemisphere States and Canada. Observations of breed once every two or three years. were originally classified into 32 western cougars provide biologists with Females initiate courtship, and produce a . Recent genetic research information for the that once lived of two to three after a three- instead identifies six groups, five of east of the Mississippi. month gestation. The kittens reach 10 which are in Central or South America. pounds at eight weeks, and may weigh 30 Some, but not all, cougar biologists to 45 pounds at six months. Females spend believe that this information suggests Although generally presumed extinct in that all North American cougars are , eastern cougars remain 18 to 24 months raising cubs to maturity. Cougars live an average of eight years. one subspecies. However, a complete protected by the Endangered Act. taxonomic evaluation including Eastern cougars historically ranged from morphology, ecology and biogeography , southern , eastern Early settlers perceived the cougar as a has not been completed. An isolated Canada and south to South danger to and humans and a population, like the panther, Carolina and west across . At competitor for wild . With bounties can develop some genetic differences one time, they lived in every Eastern state set by states, the was through past genetic bottlenecks and in a variety of including coastal hunted and trapped relentlessly until they within a small population. marshes, mountains and forests. were extirpated throughout most of their The is the only range. Cougars were gone from much of breeding population of cougar The cougar's name gives a clue to its east of the Mississippi. appearance; “concolor” means with one color, and adult cougars' is a uniform red-brown or gray-brown. Cougars have long, slender bodies with very long and broad, round heads with erect, rounded ears. Adult cats average from 6 feet (females) to 8 feet (males) long, including their . Males, at around 140 pounds, are larger than females at about 105 pounds. Cougars can swim, climb trees and leap horizontally and vertically equally well. Eastern cougars' primary prey was white-tailed deer, but they also hunted eastern (now extinct) and and other smaller . Northeast Region While confirmed cougars sightings have occurred recently in the wild in the East, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service there is currently no physical evidence documenting the continued existence of a 300 Westgate Center Drive population of wild eastern cougars. The cougars examined in the Northeast in the Hadley, MA 01035 past 70 years are likely released or escaped captives. Some cats had a South 413/253 8200 American genetic profile. Some may be animals that dispersed into the region from http://northeast.fws.gov western populations. Confirmed cougar sightings have increased in the Midwest and Great Lakes states in recent years. Some believe that a small residual Federal Relay Service population of wild cougars persisted in the Canadian Maritime Provinces where for the deaf and hard-of-hearing there has also been recent confirmed evidence of cougars. 1 800/877 8339

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov 1 800/344 WILD

December 2010

illustrations: Robert Savannah