Puma at the Belgrade Zoo. (Image Credit: Bas Lammers / Flickr)

Puma at the Belgrade Zoo. (Image Credit: Bas Lammers / Flickr)

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today declared the eastern puma extinct and removed it from the list of protected wildlife and plants under the Endangered Species Act. The eastern puma was a subspecies of the animal also known as cougar or mountain lion, which is still widely distributed across the West. It once roamed as far north as southeastern Ontario, southern Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada, south to South Carolina and west to Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan.

The eastern puma’s range contracted from the 1790s to the 1890s due to human persecution abetted by the extirpation, through hunting, of its primary prey, white-tailed deer. The last three eastern pumas were killed in 1930 in Tennessee, 1932 in New Brunswick and 1938 in Maine.

“The extinction of the eastern puma and other apex carnivores such as wolves and lynx upended the ecology of the original colonies and beyond,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Over a century after deer went extinct in the Northeast, they have returned with a voracious vengeance, and botanists lament the disappearance of formerly abundant plant communities. We have forests that have lost the top and the bottom of the food chain.”

The eastern cougar was extinct well before it was protected under the Endangered Species Act, as was the case with eight of the other 10 species that have been delisted for extinction. Overall the Endangered Species Act has been 99 percent successful at saving species from extinction.

A different subspecies of the puma, the Florida panther, survives in a small, isolated and precarious population at the rapidly urbanizing southern tip of Florida. These animals, too, were once widespread, from their namesake state north to Georgia and west to Arkansas and eastern Texas. Cougars from the mountainous West have reclaimed lost habitat and currently reproduce as small populations in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. Individual Florida panthers and midwestern cougars that have traveled long distances have been hit by cars, shot by hunters or killed by authorities in recent years throughout the Midwest and East, but there is no breeding population in the historic range of the eastern puma.

“Through public and civic tolerance and through reintroduction at the state level, pumas could be returned to the East to play their ancient role in controlling deer herds,” said Robinson. “This is a somber moment to think about what the land under our feet used to be like, and what roamed here. It should also be a clarion call to recover pumas and all of our apex predators to sustainable levels to help rebalance a world that is out of kilter.”

Pumas were once the most widely distributed mammal in the Americas, extending from the Yukon in Canada to the southern tip of South America. The eastern puma’s scientific name is Puma concolor couguar.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

61 Responses

  1. jessica says:

    They already have put some in an they’re killing an attacking are farm animals.

    • I hear this excuse all the time from dumb fucks that have no business in farming. If you don’t have the brains and means of protecting your livestock … then God Damnit! … stay the FUCK out of the business … it’s not meant for dumb-asses like YOU!!!!

    • Paula says:

      Billions of farm animals wreaking havoc on the environment…cattle farming produces more greenhouse gases than every mode of transportation combined and you’re more worried about farm animals that are your responsibility to protect than the extinction of the “Natural” animals that are meant to live here! You and all the other Redneck Midwest farmers can kiss my %$#@

    • So go VEGAN and you do not need farm animals. Meat & dairy industries are #1 reason for destruction of this planet and humanity. They are attacking farm animals because Americans hunters killed everything that moves in USA and they have nothing to eat… and Africa that is… Maybe kill the deer and give it to them instead for change?! And they will not attack anybody… Plus this is THEIR LAND humans stole from them – they have a right to live just like you. And sorry but whole EU has WILD LIFE PASSAGES – so I am in shock that developed country like USA has NO money to do wildlife passages around USA… but has money for wars… that is over century of wars… greed will take us all down 🙁

  2. Craig says:

    This is incorrect, they have recently been seen in numerous occasions in west Georgia, Polk county area!!

    • It’s very likely that there are still a few around, Craig, because there’s no way to check that every single member of the species is dead. The Yangtze River Dolphin, for example, still has some individuals left, but it has been declared ‘functionally extinct’ because there is not enough of a population to perpetuate the species. The same is true for the eastern puma. But before you declare the information ‘incorrect,’ please bear in mind that this is the official word of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Also, since this seems to be a common complaint, Martin Miller, chief of endangered species for the USFWS’ northeastern region, issued this message yesterday: “We recognize that people have seen cougars in the wild in the eastern U.S. Those cougars are not of the eastern cougar subspecies.”

    • Yeah! Hey we saw one! Let’s kill ’em!! (Duh motherfuckers.)

  3. Darlene Hatke says:

    FYI, We are seeing more and more cougar in Kansas. In the past signs where present, but now we are actually seeing and getting pics of them. It is common knowledge that the Oregon, Idaho is over populated with cougar, Why not trap and relocate these cougars to other places where the numbers are extinct or endangerd.

    • Donna says:

      I agree , maybe they could breed the pumas back.

    • mayank says:

      Darlene Hatke, You can’t shift animals. This is same as there are less people in alaska(people extinct there). Let relocate some people from LA to Alaska. I hope you understand my point. No offence.

  4. me svedres says:

    I saw one in the woods outside of Savannah Ga, while riding my horse.

  5. I hope someone is storing DNA of these species before they go extinct… so they can be brought back when technology makes it possible.

  6. Will says:

    Typically animals aren’t captured and released to reintroduce the species, it is done through reproductive conservation methods. Mayank you’re opinion isn’t necessarily right either. There have been a few instances where reintroducing species to the wild have been beneficial to the ecosystem. Check out the wolves of yellowstone. I’m pretty sure NPR did a good article about it several months ago. Also wild horses in Spain.

  7. Tom Thayer says:

    Not sure why they have been taken off the list and declared extinct. We see the all the time up here and even find them in our yards and barns. They are definitely not extinct. Endangered, yes. Most definitely need to be protected. If they were extinct, I would not have had one in my garage three years ago. lol Also, the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario would not have a page dedicated to protecting them if they were extinct up here. I think this is simply a knee jerk reaction to some bad information.

    • Rosy says:

      Did you read the article?! “The eastern puma was a subspecies of the animal also known as cougar or mountain lion, which is still widely distributed across the West.” They also said, “The eastern cougar was extinct well before it was protected under the Endangered Species Act, as was the case with eight of the other 10 species that have been delisted for extinction”, so what you think you saw was not an actual Eastern Puma.

  8. Barbara says:

    Great! That’s right American public, keep ignoring, until and of course, only when something the ‘so called’ government protectors of our wildlife actually and personally might affect you! The loss of these beautiful animals is so very sad AND senseless!

  9. Charlie says:

    Hey People. The article is about the SUBSPECIES of the cougar – The EASTERN PUMA. You may have seen cougars in your area but not the SUBSPECIES of that cougar member. Yes we have plenty of cougar (aka puma) here in Oregon and other places but, again, so it’s clear, the EASTERN PUMA IS HAT THE ARTICLE IS TALKING ABOUT. READ!

  10. I don’t understand- we have them in Nova Scotia and they are sighted regularly here where I live now in the Catskill mountains of New York. Is this a spoof?!?

  11. LR says:

    We have one (maybe 2) in our neighbourhood. Many people have seen it or them over the past 10 years, and a group of people watched it kill a deer last year just outside our village. So they are NOT (yet!) extinct in eastern Ontario, Canada

  12. What a great idea! I hope that’s being done, too.

  13. Reading these comments have hurt my brain, are people really this dumb. The Eastern Puma is extinct, you have not seen one in your neighborhood, and you definitely didn’t have one in your garage. This is like if the Chihuahua went extinct, and people are like no, I just saw a German Shepard.

  14. Humans are very stupid!

  15. whacko says:

    @jessica. Apparently they must also be killing all the d’s in the word “and”

  16. virginia anderson says:

    I posted this on my Facebook and two people say they have seen one in Banks Co Georgia.

  17. Debby says:

    A lot of the problem with the eastern Puma is they was so inbred they had heart murmurs And Were Dying from it .
    If they really wanted to save them they would have brought some of the mountain lions from the west coast over to Florida to breed and bring new blood gene pool, it probably would have solved the problem and they’ve known about the heart Murmurs and stagnant gene pool for years and years

    • They did introduce Western Cougars into S Florida to try and help the few Florida Panthers left. It didn’t work because that cat is too large and needs more Square Miles per cat to sustain themselves than available here. The remaining Panthers are so in bred, it is said the species will die out and can not come back.

  18. Sandra Sparks says:

    They aren’t extinct! They are alive and well living in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties. My dogs encountered one just 2 days ago! Thank God they didn’t get hurt! It was huge and healthy.

  19. Star says:

    We still had these in NC as of 2007. I used to see them around dawn when I’d arrive at work in Blowing Rock.

  20. Jolouise says:

    Humans who kill wild animals are Scum and the same thing should happen to them. What goes around comes around!!

  21. j.van rooyen says:

    stop the killing on animals

  22. They are so full of s**t !!!!!!! Go to Sharon Connecticut and take a hike in the woods and you will see Mountain lions, I have seen them myself in Connecticut …..

    • Paula says:

      Why don’t you try actually reading the article…it said Eastern Puma…a subspecies not the regular Puma or Mountain Lion!

      • Rosy says:

        Thank you, Paula. I’m just SMDH. Tried to comment on each person that erroneously “saw” this animal that has been extinct since 1938, but the stupidity overrides common sense and skills such as reading and comprehension.

  23. Jodine says:

    Man done this

  24. Jodine says:

    People need to start leaving animals alone FFS….

  25. wanda says:

    i believe i saw one in my rural hometown about 1981…while on a drive through the backwoods…it was distinctive because of its long tail…definitely not a lynx…i live in New Brunswick, Canada

  26. Can we start shooting hunters and trophy hunters and poachers when every animal on the planet goes extinct? Because that’s what this planet is coming too and these people will only have themselves to blame when our animals that we see in books and on tv are gone from the earth and our future children ask where they went and why they are gone

  27. Uberto Monaldo says:

    And hunters say they are conservationists… LOOK AT REALITY! THIS IS WHAT HUNTING CAUSE!

  28. pat says:

    If you have stock, sheep cows, pigs horses etc. Stock dogs and Llamas can protect them. If you want to be a farmer look at how it’s done…..

  29. Suzanne says:

    Mean while….Florida jerk hunters are slautering off black bears in the last few days, through 10/30. They killed 202 just in the first day!!! Taking lactating mothers from their 5-6 month old babies.

  30. Suzanne says:

    Stop Florida in their current masicuring of black bears!

  31. THey are so wrong we have seen them here in eastern NC many times.

  32. jw says:

    the title of the article alone states that the eastern puma was once declared extinct, but has now been removed from the endangered species list. it seems that some people are confused without having read the article.

  33. sheree barka says:

    Desperately sad, so why does the hunting of America’s superb
    Big Cat continue?…

    • Sheree I have seen only Three pumas in the Kaibab Forest of Arizona in a period of nine years.As a guide I have seen their pug marks. more frequently, and the remains of a kill . There are those that lie about the numbers because they are government sanctioned bounty hunters and exaggerate the count to get permits to kill this beautiful animal We were doing a tour when out of the undergrowth burst a full grown “tom” in full flight not one of the tourists to the Grand Canyon had time to take a photo ,but the memory of this magnificent animal will always be there .

  34. Debby says:

    It breaks my heart to know about this, it’s a shame in this day and age that we have to see endangered animals of any breed!????

  35. Carlos Diaz says:

    Way to go, gringos. One more extinct species on your long list!

  36. Damn Donna! says:

    Pumas need to be reintroduced to rebalance ecosystems that have an abundance of deer and other prey animals. Period.

  37. chris says:

    Boycott them polluting farmers quit eating

  38. Wendi says:

    Our family has seen one here in Maine. Twice in the last 20 years.

  39. Ann Skyler-Cobbett says:

    Black bears were endangered 20 years ago in Florida and so they were protected and now look what has happened. Now there’s a hunting season on Black Bears, killing lactating moms and leaving cubs to starve to death. That’s what will happen Pumas as soon as there’s one incident with a pet or human.

  40. Diane says:

    A few years ago my sister and I had one in our driveway in the Adirondacks when we got there at night.People thought we were nuts until one cat was hit by a car on the highway a few weeks later.

  41. ruth says:

    I must be nuts.. I have a mom with cubs here last year… she has a right to be here same as i do .I was less than 50 away from her. She was like 110 pounds all she did was run off.. I could here the cry’s of the cubs in my back yard she never touched anything in my yard and i had horses and goats at the time . But i also have gsd’s in the yard so it does help to have a good dog . To look out for the other pets …all i can say if you have trouble get 2 or 3 good dog to keep a look out it works to keep all safe

  42. >:( says:


  43. Claire says:

    Ok but fr I live in northern VA and I’ve seen at least 2 cougars since 2013

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Get the top stories from Planet Experts — right to your inbox every week.

Send this to a friend