Cougar question has possible ESA implications

©Everglades NPS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the delisting of the Eastern puma, an extinct cougar subspecies. While reviewing the proposal, scientists have suggested that there may have never been any subspecies. All cougars may really just be Puma concolor – a single species.

If USFWS determines that cougars across North America are not genetically different, the listing of the endangered Florida panther subspecies (Puma concolor coryi) may come under scrutiny. If they are deemed the same as cougars in the western US, they could be delisted and lose federal protection. Only about 100-180 cougars exist in Florida and are struggling to survive, as habitat loss and automobile collisions remain major threats.

USFWS will wait until all proposal comments have been submitted on July 28 to make a conclusion on both the delisting of the Eastern cougar and the subspecies question.

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