The cougar (a.k.a. the mountain lion or puma) is the largest feline in The United States, and for the last one hundred years, their population was critically low- endangering their very survival. Now, a study suggests that their populations are finally increasing and recovering in the United States.
For decades mountain lions were seen as a threat to livestock and humans and many States paid a bounty to hunters for killing them. Their habitats were restricted to the areas around the Black Hills of Dakota, but in the 1960s and 70s the animals were reclassified as managed game species, so hunting was limited and numbers started to grow.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that mountain lions started to spread far and wide during the 1990s – this perspective was confirmed last June when a young male was hit by a car and killed in Connecticut. Genetic analysis indicated that the animal originated from the Black Hills and had traveled approximately 2,900km (1,800mi) via a number of States.
Now researchers have published the first scientific evidence that cougars have returned to the mid-west and are now to be found as far south as Texas and as far north as the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.
They say that limits on hunting and the return of elk and mule deer that cougars prey on have been key to increasing the overall population which is now said to number around 30,000.