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Mountain Lions Expanding East?

This page is a work in progress. last modified 1/12/08

Mountain Lions once roamed most of North America. Do to unregulated hunting, and habitat loss their range has dwindled to the mountainous areas of the west since around the turn of the century. There is also a sub-species known as the Florida Panther that is found mostly in extreme southern Florida around the Everglades.

However, in the past decade there have been hundreds if not thousands of reported Mountain Lion sightings and numerous confirmed lions in eastern states. States the cougars once called home. The Mountain Lion is known by several other names: cougar, puma, catamount, and panther.
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Cougar Range
Confirmed Cougar Sightings
Very little is actually known about the cougars daily habits and territory.

On May 27th 2004 a dead cougar was found near Red Rock Oklahoma, 80 miles North of Oklahoma City. A railroad worker reported finding a dead cougar laying near tracks he had been inspecting. What made this particular cougar so important is that on February 24, 2003 it had been fitted with a radio collar after

being treed by dogs and shot with a tranquilizer. After being collared the 80 pound male cougar was last tracked 58 miles to the northeast on September 3rd. Although his exact travel route is unknown, we know he ended up more than 660 straight line miles some 8 months later. This is nearly twice the distance of any previously known travel. Another interesting thing about this study is that a second male cougar is known to have traveled over 500 miles and is now in Minnesota along the Canadian border.  
Black Panthers: Despite the fact that a large percentage of "cougar" sightings are reportedly a large black cat or "black panther", there has never been a confirmed "black" cougar in the United States. Not a picture not a body, not a captive specimen ever.

Cougar tracks are Cougar
Cougar Track
Confirmed Eastern Cougar Sightings:

Illinois,  Randolph County -  July 15th 2000. Dead male mountain lion aprx 4-6 years old found near railroad tracks. North American origin. No signs of being confined. link

Missouri, Clay County -  October 2002 a 2-3 year old male lion

Missouri, Callaway County - In August 2003 a 1.5 year old male was killed by a car. Grey squirrel in stomach, no signs of confinement - related link

Arkansas, Perry County - August 2003 a hunter using a wildlife camera photographed a cougar in the Winona WMA.

Maine - 2003 outdoorsman spots cougar and cub and makes a report to wildlife agency who follow-up with biologist visit. Hairs were found and confirmed to be mountain lion. Link

Illinois,  near New Boston -  December 4, 2004 dead cougar found by hunters. This cougar had apparently been shot by someone with archery equipment probably a few days before it was found. Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

Wisconsin - January 2007 a cougar sighting reported by a trapper was confirmed by DNA tests on urine found after Wisconsin DNR followed up on the sighting report. Further tests are expected to determine whether the mountain lion was of south American origin or a native subspecies.


Links & Resources: 
 Link 1
 Link 2
 Link 3


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