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article imageOnce again, Eastern cougars are being declared extinct

By Brian Booker     Jun 19, 2015 in Environment
The Eastern puma has been removed from the endangered species list, but for the worst reason possible: the elusive “ghost cat” is being declared extinct.
Officials from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service have declared the Eastern puma extinct. Officials believe that the puma has actually been extinct since the 1930s, but occasional sightings over the years previously kept hopes alive that the cat was, in fact, alive.
The Eastern puma once roamed across Canada and the United States. When European settlers began to arrive in North America in large numbers, however, they began to exterminate the cats. The last known Eastern puma was shot and killed in 1938 in Maine.
The recent announcement, however, does not mark the first time that the animal has been declared extinct. The Eastern puma was also declared extinct in 2011 but the animal was kept on the endangered species list.
Scientists believe that western pumas, or cougars as they are often called, do occasionally wander into the Eastern United States. These pumas, while closely related to Eastern pumas, are actually a separate subspecies.
While settlers initially killed the cougars in order to protect their livestock, scientists believe that the extermination of the white tail deer, the cats' primary prey, is what led to its ultimate demise.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to accept comments and input on the de-listing until August 17th, 2015.
Western cougars still survive in large numbers and are not considered an endangered species. The animals are widely found across North America and even South America.
While Western cougars are mostly found in California, the Rocky Mountains and areas near the mountains, they have been slowly expanding eastward.
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