Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the eastern cougar is now extinct. The announcement states,
Although the eastern cougar has been on the endangered species list since 1973, its existence has long been questioned.Indeed, it goes on to note that "According to Dr. Mark McCollough, the Service's lead scientist for the eastern cougar, the subspecies of eastern cougar has likely been extinct since the 1930s."
Photo of related species, Florida Panter; Photo Credit: © iStockPhoto/Dennis Guyitt
The extinction of any breed of cats is heartbreaking to cat lovers. It is hard for us to create a distinction between our love of our own domestic cat family members, and the love of their much larger, wilder brethren. That could explain the attraction of many cat lovers toward cats with the look of the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established a page where readers can post their own sightings of cougars, pumas, and related big cats. While I certainly can't dispute the U.Sl Fish and Wildlife Service's conclusion that the eastern cougar is truly extinct, it does give one cause to wonder if any one of the many reported sitings could have been valid. You may post your own comments here, or follow the discussion on The Cat That Never Was on the About.com Cats Forum. See also Florida Panther: Endangered Big Cat.