Sunday, July 31, 2011

Connecticut Cougar!

There has been some nationally new of the cougar front. Since the delisting of Eastern Cougars on the Endangered Species List, one popped up in Connecticut. Strangely, the same week I was also in Connecticut. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, the Connecticut cougar was found killed on a road (very sad for all us animal lovers) BUT it was a way to prove its existence in Connecticut. First theories were that it was an escaped pet which didn't know how to avoid humans and cross traffic and got killed. A typical belief to dismiss any belief about wild populations.

HOWEVER.... after a DNA test, there was a revelation in the origin of this animal. I feel like I'm writing a origin story about a Marvel superhero called Connecticut Cougar. Well, the life of this cougar is nothing but extraordinary. The cougar's home is the Black Hills in South Dakota, a small, known population of cougars. Then, how did this one get to Connecticut? This is the best part, the cougar made a journey of 1,500 miles; the longest ever recorded journey for a mountain lion.

It was a young male, looking for more territory and girl cougars (the feline type). They are known to travel, but not more than 100 miles for a mate. I cannot say if he ever found one. This journey is very important in the view of cougars and dispersal into historic eastern ranges. It means that a cougar can travel across about half of the US to find greener pastures, and that may mean they can reach any state in the Eastern US. This is amazing news for us conservationists and cougar zoologists. It may mean that soon (if not already) my state of Virginia will have cougar(s) from South Dakota.

These aren't "Eastern" cougars, but who cares? Our forests and ecosystem needs these top predators. I can't wait until one pops up in my trail camera photo and we can all ponder more rationally if it is a wild one or a released pet. Because the one pioneer which sadly lost his life, has spread the word that not all "eastern" cougars are former pets. Thank you friend.

To learn more about this particular cat, follow the link.