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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

COUGAR REWILDING makes a strong declaration about the fact that the JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT article entitled COUGARS ARE RECOLONIZING THE MIDWEST has a bit of an "outdated postmark" to it as it covers the period of 1990-2008(prior to stepped up hunting of Pumas in the Black Hills) without noting that circumstances have changed greatly for the most easterly Puma breeding territory in the Dakotas..................In 2010, South Dakota began a program of "slashing" their Black Hills cougar program....... Shortly before that, Wyoming declared their portion of the Black Hills as a population "sink," where deaths exceed recruitment migration...........Therefore, it is unlikely that cougars will establish new breeding colonies in the Midwest because of the deliberate overharvesting in the Black Hills, and also because the overwhelming majority of dispersers in the Midwest have been young males......... You can't have a population without females.

Commentary from Helen McGinnis at COUGAR REWILDING questioning whether there is a large enough population remaining in the Black Hills of South Dakota to spawn further emigration of Pumas into the midwest

Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:12 PM
in a preface on our blog today -
           the link above also will provide you with another link to the June 2012 monthly Cougar Rewilding newsletter----excellent source of information on all things PUMMA!

The cougars killed and captured east of the source areas in 2011--a record number--were mostly born in 2009.  The "slashing" of the Black Hills population began in 2010.  The Wyoming portion of the Black Hills were designated as a population "sink" in the 2010-2011 season, which began on Sept. 1, 2010.  We expect that the wildlife agencies in both states will further increase the quotas in the 2012-2013 seasons.  The goals in both states is to further reduce the cougar population, possibly putting it at risk.

Our study,released yesterday, concludes it is unlikely that cougars will establish new breeding colonies in the Midwest because of the deliberate overharvesting in the Black Hills, and also because the overwhelming majority of dispersers in the Midwest have been young males.  You can't have a population without females.  See "Cougar Mortalities in Central North America and the Evidence Against Recolonization East of the Prairie Colonies" -

That report is based on a spreadsheet of mortalities and captures of cougars outside recognized breeding colonies between 2000 and 2011.  The year 2011 saw a record 15 mortalities and one capture (the only female).  By June 14tth in 2011, there had been 7 mortalities in central North America, including Manitoba, an one capture.  So far this year, we have learned of only one capture and no mortalities.  We suspect that the drastic reduction in the Black Hills population is cutting off the supply of young dispersers leaving the hills

Cougar Rewilding's Vice President, Dr. John Laundre, is the author of a new book, PHANTOMS OF THE PRAIRIE: THE RETURN OF COUGARS TO THE MIDWEST.  He is also the author of more than 20 scientific articles on cougar ecology.  You might want to interview him -  315-216-4370; cell 315-529-3759.  He was interviewed for the article published in the Pioneer Press yesterday -

Also, we aren't aware of any confirmations in Nebraska this year outside the breeding colony in the Pine Ridge and the immediate vicinity.  Helen McGinnis
Blog Editor
Cougar Rewilding Foundation

Here is the link to the Cougar Rewilding monthly newsletter -

Here is the link -


Study: Cougars again spreading across Midwest

Associated Press

Cougars are again spreading across the Midwest a century after the generally reclusive predators were hunted to near extinction in much of the region, according to a new study billed as the first rigorous statistical look at the issue.

The findings, detailed in The Journal of Wildlife Management, showed 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest and as far south as Texas between 1990 and 2008. While confirmed sightings of Midwest cougars were sporadic before 1990, when there were only a couple, that number spiked to more than 30 by 2008, the study shows. Researchers said the study poses fresh questions about how humans and livestock can co-exist with the re-emerging predators, whose movements appear to be following natural dispersal instincts.

The study sorts through various reported sightings and affixes a number to those it could confirm, which is significant because no government agency tracks the number of large cats across the country. Wildlife officials have for years said it's unclear how many of the animals may be in the Midwest, where they are not federally protected and, in some states, can be hunted. "We (now) know there are a heck of a lot more cougars running around the Midwest than in 1990," said Clay Nielsen, a Southern Illinois University wildlife ecologist who co-authored the report while heading the nonprofit Cougar Network's scientific research. "We've got an interesting and compelling picture to talk about now.

"For those who are excited about the notion of living with large carnivores, this is great," Nielsen added. "For those worried about livestock degradations, there's going to be division in the ranks in the Midwest. It's going to be interesting to see how the public responds if this colonizing continues." In the study, researchers relied on carcasses, cougar DNA from scat and hair samples, animal tracks, photos, video and instances of attacks on livestock across 14 states and Canadian provinces to measure the number of cougars east of the Rocky Mountains.
Scientists long had suspected that cougars were migrating from the West or South Dakota's Black Hills mountain range, where populations of the big, long-tailed cats have been so abundant that the state has staged a yearly hunting season targeting mountain lions since 2005. The study excluded confirmations from the Black Hills, given that state's bounty of the cats.

Of the cougar confirmations by researchers, roughly 62 percent took place within some 12 miles of habitat considered suitable for the animals' populations. Sixty-seven of the confirmations were in Nebraska, 31 in North Dakota, 12 each in Oklahoma and Texas, 11 in South Dakota and 10 in Missouri. Single-digit tallies were in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan.

Researchers theorize cougars are inhabiting the Midwest again following a "stepping stone" dispersal pattern — moving out of a dense population, stopping at the closest patch of available habitat and examining it for mates and prey before moving on. One male cougar made its way as far as Connecticut, where it was hit and killed by a vehicle.

Such cougar dispersal "is what they're programmed to do. Young mammals, even young humans, tend to move away from home," said Paul Beier, a Northern Arizona University conservation biology professor who studies cougars. "They once occupied the midwestern U.S. There's still some appropriate habitat, and this is how they'll find it."

Cougars are known to be largely secretive and mostly keep to riverbanks and wooded areas, usually avoiding humans while feeding on deer, turkeys and raccoons. But at times, the predators have drifted into populated areas. Police in Santa Monica, Calif., last month killed a 95-pound mountain lion that roamed into a downtown area — the first such sighting in that city in more than three decades — and Chicago police in 2008 shot and killed a 150-pound cougar in an alley on the city's North Side.

2012 Puma breeding habitat in the USA

The study's findings come as little surprise to Bill Jorgenson, a North Dakotan who came face to face in January of last year with a 130-pound female cougar and her three cubs in a storage barn on his property, where he has 20 horses and some 1,000 head of cattle. Fearing for his safety, Jorgenson shot and killed the animals. "They're so thick out here, it's unbelievable," Jorgenson, 58, said of the mountain lions he blames for "wiping out" the deer population around his home near the 1,700-resident town of Watford City. "Two years ago, it'd be nothing to see 200 to 300 mule deer out there; this past winter, we never saw more than 20. We have carcasses all over where they've been killed."

Missouri's Department of Conservation said recently the 14 confirmed cougar sightings in that state this year compares to a dozen cougars confirmed there over the previous 16 years. Since 1996, Missouri has deployed a specially trained, evidence-collecting "Mountain Lion Response Team" of wildlife experts, law enforcers and biologists whenever there's a credible sighting of cougars.

CITATION FOR INFORMATION IN ABOVE ARTICLE: LaRue, M.A., C.K. Nielsen, M. Dowling, K. Miller, B. Wilson, H. Shaw, and C. Anderson. 2012. Cougars are recolonizing the Midwest: analysis of cougar confirmations during 1990-2008. Journal of Wildlife Management.

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