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posted on 09 August 2016

Adirondack Cougar

Written by

Philip Terrie, an Adirondack and environmental historian, has written a review of a new book: Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat's Walk across America, by William Stolzenburg. It recounts the scientifically documented migration of a cougar (mountain lion), born in North Dakota in 2008 and killed by a car in Connecticut in 2011.

In the map above are designated the scientifically documentated locations reached during the big cat's trek. Several locations involved DNA collection which was used to identify the animal killed by a car on the Merrit Parkway in southwestern Connnecticut in June, 2011.

Just months before the fateful day in Connecticut, GEI News had posted an article on the eastern mountain lion:

The Eastern Cougar, also know as the catamount in the northeastern U.S., has been declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The last documented cougar was trapped and killed in 1938. That animal was mounted and is shown in the accompanying undated photo from MSNBC / MSN. The man in the photo is wildlife biologist Bruce Wright.

The Eastern Cougar is closely related to the Western Mountain Lion and the Florida Panther, according to It has various names throughout the eastern U.S. In addition to the name catamount, it is also known as the puma, mountain lion, panther and painter. The adult cats are up to seven feet long, including tail, and weigh as much as 140 pounds.

The Bangor Daily News reported as follows:

Sorry, cougar believers. The "ghost cat" of the eastern woods is no more.Or at least that's the official word from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has determined after a three-year study that the species of cougar that once prowled from Michigan to Maine to South Carolina is extinct.

As a result, the agency plans to move forward with plans to remove the eastern cougar from the federal endangered species list, officials announced Wednesday.

That conclusion is unlikely to convince the hundreds - perhaps thousands - of Americans who believe they have spotted one of the elusive "big cats" crossing a road, stalking prey in a field or even sunning itself in a backyard in the eastern United States. Maine wildlife officials receive dozens of reports every year.

But after reviewing more than 570 comments from the public on possible sightings, federal biologists determined that any cougars spotted north of Florida were likely captive cats that were released or escaped, western cats migrating eastward or - in most cases - were not mountain lions at all.

The designation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refers to the catamount in the wild. The Eastern Cougar still lives in captivity. The picture below is of a catamount in captivity in Maine from the Bangor Daily Mail.

catamount captivity

GEI Managing Editor disagrees and has documented observations of the catamount, which are reproduced below.

The Catamount

By John B. Lounsbury

The Catamount most surely lives.
His claw a vicious blemish gives
To Adirondack mountain sides
The famous, open, slashing slides.

The beast remains by man unseen.
But when rain flood comes on the scene,
The cat comes out from hidden lair
To seek a victim for his fare.

His claw digs deep for mountain blood,
The nectar in his thirst for food.
And, when the sun comes out once more,
We see the slide, a brand new score.

On every hike I hope to see,
Behind each rock, in every tree,
A glimpse of the elusive cat
Within his native habitat.

But never once a sighting made,
And hope has long begun to fade
Of ever seeing mountain cat.
It's just his handiwork looked at.

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