There are four cases of scats: There are three cases of tracks: The Eastern Cougar Foundation ECF , a c 3 organization, was founded by independent researcher Todd Lester in West Virginia in to compile the accumulating evidence, and to grapple with these issues. Lester and Linzey standardized the procedures they use to narrow the large volume of sightings to the small percentage of credible prospects Miller, Most importantly, a viable cougar population would return a native predator and offer ecosystem benefits such as an evolutionary selection force and population check on currently over-abundant deer. The answer to the first question may never be resolved, because of the low genetic variability of North American cougars and perhaps more importantly because of the small sample size of known eastern cougars Culver, If viable cougar populations with their potential for depredations are to be tolerated, however, much educational outreach remains to be done in rural communities, especially around public lands.
The puma, mysterious American cat. First, the VT confirmation involved a possible family group, and New England, especially Maine, continues to report sightings of mothers with kittens, some with field evidence awaiting confirmation. Given the remarkable capabilities of this animal, no possibility should be absolutely ruled out. A habitat analyses based on GIS layers of forest cover and human population, road, and deer densities showed that good cougar habitat in the central Appalachians does exist in and around these public lands Taverna, Three clusters of confirmation raise intriguing questions about reproduction. Melanie Culver at VA Tech tests samples and validates tests conducted by others. Cases are categorized by type of evidence. David Maehr of the Univ. There is a potentially positive public reaction to the animals. But it is unlikely that all of them are. Since spring of at least 3 radio-collared Florida panthers have crossed north of the Caloosahatchee River for the first time since fieldwork began 20 years ago. In , a male cougar was killed while killing sheep and a pregnant female was captured two days later in Pocahontas County, WV. There may also be possibilities for future ecotourism. In addition, in the same general area, a video of a cougar was made by MDC agent Jerry Elliott in , and two deer kills were confirmed as cougar kills by the MDC in A field survey in the southern Appalachians by the U. The sighting that prompted the search involved three cougars, and three sets of tracks were found, possibly indicating a family group. This is approximately air miles from an incident in Russell County, VA in , in which 25 goats were killed by an alleged cougar not confirmed , and where personnel of the VA Dept. Questions are shifting to: Although there are concerns about development of the North Woods, at present there is a substantial amount of wild land there. In in central New Brunswick, Canada, Provincial wildlife biologist Rod Cumberland documented tracks and collected a scat that was analyzed by the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa and found to contain showshoe hair bones and foot and leg hairs of cougar. It seems unlikely that cougars could cross the river, but it was also deemed highly unlikely that Florida panthers could successfully navigate through intense human development and cross the Caloosahatchee River. An ecological benefit of a cougar population in the east might be to return an evolutionary selection force and population check on over-abundant deer. Lester and Linzey standardized the procedures they use to narrow the large volume of sightings to the small percentage of credible prospects Miller, We wish to thank the Sierra Club and the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition for making it possible to present this paper. Each case entails consideration of significant details, including the history of cougars in the local area, the circumstances of local habitat and prey, evidence of reproduction, credentials of confirming biologists and the possibility of fraud. If viable cougar populations with their potential for depredations are to be tolerated, however, much educational outreach remains to be done in rural communities, especially around public lands.
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