PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it’s proposing removing the eastern cougar from the endangered species list because the animal has likely been extinct for at least 70 years.
The Northeast region chief for endangered species said Tuesday that people have seen cougars, also known as mountain lions, in the Eastern U.S.
But he says those aren’t the eastern cougar subspecies. Instead, they’re believed to be migrating western mountain lions, Florida panthers or captive animals that were released.
The eastern cougar subspecies was listed as endangered in 1973. Most of them disappeared in the 1800s as European settlers killed them and as habitat and prey changed. The last records of eastern cougar sightings are believed to be in Maine in 1938 and in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1932.