Posted on January 11th, 2012 4 comments Add a comment >>
Wildlife biologist Paul Jensen will give a lecture on “Big Cats of the Adirondacks” at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, January 29.
Jensen will talk about the historical distribution of mountain lions, Canada lynx, and bobcats in the Northeast and how these species may be affected by changes in the landscape and the climate in the years ahead.
Mountain lions and Canada lynx no longer live in the Adirondacks, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Last year, however, officials confirmed that a mountain lion struck by a car in Connecticut had passed through the Lake George region. The cat had migrated east from South Dakota.
Jensen, a senior wildlife biologist with DEC, has been researching martens and fishers in the Adirondacks as part of a doctoral program at McGill University in Montreal.
The Adirondack Museum is sponsoring the lecture. Because of construction at the museum, the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts is hosting the event. Museum members and children of elementary-school age or younger will be admitted free. The fee for others is $5.
For more information, call (518) 352-7311 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.
Posted on October 27th, 2011 2 comments Add a comment >>
An advocate of reintroducing the cougar to the Adirondacks will speak at the Whallonsburg Grange at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Christopher Spatz, president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, has argued in the pages of the Explorer and elsewhere that reintroducing the cats would restore the Adirondack Park’s ecological balance.
Spatz will discuss cougar biology and behavior, recent studies of cougar populations, and the much-publicized case of the cougar that migrated from South Dakota to Connecticut.
The talk is sponsored by the Northeast Wilderness Trust and the Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership. For more information, call 802-453-7880 or e-mail Rose Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on August 19th, 2011 7 comments Add a comment >>
The wild cougar that journeyed some 1,800 miles from South Dakota to Connecticut passed through the Adirondacks in 2010, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Cindy Eggleston spotted a cougar in her backyard in the town of Lake George on December 16. The next day, her husband, David Eggleston, who is a retired DEC colonel, and Environmental Conservation Officer Louis Gerrain followed the animal’s tracks and collected hair samples from what appeared to be a bedding site.
DNA analysis of the hairs indicated that they came from the same cougar that was killed by a car on a highway in Milford, Connecticut, on June 11. Previously, DNA tests of the Connecticut cougar showed that it was the same cougar that had been tracked in Minnesota and Wisconsin and that it came from a breeding population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The cougar was first detected in Minnesota in December 2009 and then tracked as it wandered through Wisconsin. In May 2010, a cougar was caught on trail cameras near the border of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Scientists believe it was the same cougar. Presumably, it traveled through the Upper Peninsula into Ontario and then headed south, eventually passing through the Adirondacks.
The cat was a healthy male, weighing about 140 pounds that apparently had been in search of a mate.
DEC biologist Kevin Hynes said young males out west usually travel only one or two hundred miles in search of a mate, though one cougar outfitted with a radio collar trekked 660 miles from South Dakota to Oklahoma. The cougar killed in Connecticut traveled about three times as far.
“Sometimes wildlife do unexpected things,” Hynes said. “This was a remarkable journey. If you had asked me before it happened, I wouldn’t have thought that it was possible.”
DEC says cougars were extirpated from the Adirondacks in the 1800s, though some people contend that a remnant population continues to dwell in the region. Hynes argues that the fact that the animal was observed and tracked–not only in New York but in other states–is evidence against the existence of a remnant population.
“If we had a number of mountain lions living in the Adirondacks or the Catskills, they certainly would be detected over time,” he said.
Hynes added that Eggleston’s may be the first sighting of a wild cougar in New York State since the late 1800s. A cougar kitten was shot and killed in Saratoga County in 1993, but tests indicated that it had been a captive animal of South American origin.
Posted on July 26th, 2011 12 comments Add a comment >>
You may have read about the cougar that was killed when struck by a car in Milford, Connecticut, in June. There was a lot of speculation about where it came from. Was it a wild cougar? Was it an escaped or released pet?
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced today that a genetic analysis revealed that the cat likely came from a wild population in South Dakota. DNA samples also revealed that it was the same animal whose movements were tracked in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010.
Several years ago, in The Beast in the Garden, David Baron wrote that western mountain lions were becoming more adapted to human landscapes and had begun to migrate eastward. He predicted that it would be only a matter of time before the big cats arrived here in the East. And now we know that one, at least, made it this far.
“This is the first evidence of a mountain making its way to Connecticut from western state,” said Daniel Esty, the commissioner of Connecticut agency, “and there is still no evidence indicating that there is a native population of mountain lions in Connecticut.”
Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said it’s possible that the cougar passed through New York, but the department had no confirmed sightings of the cat. She added that this is the first time the department has seen proof that a cougar has migrated this far east.
Cougars once lived in the Adirondacks, but state wildlife biologists say they have been extirpated since the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, cougar sightings are reported fairly frequently. Generally, state biologists write them off as cases of mistaken identity. Any cougar that is sighted for real is thought to be a former pet.
In the July/August issue of the Adirondack Explorer, wildlife biologist Rainer Brocke argues in a Viewpoint that the Adirondacks does not have enough wilderness to support a population of cougars. Look for a rebuttal in the September/October issue, written by John Laundre, a biologist who says recent research indicates that cougars can live in proximity to humans.
That a cougar migrated 1,500 miles from South Dakota to Connecticut is a point in Laundre’s favor. On the other hand, as Brocke would note, it did get hit by a car.
Click here to read the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection news release.
Posted on March 2nd, 2011 4 comments Add a comment >>
It’s official: the eastern cougar is extinct. And what about all those sightings of cougars in the Adirondacks and elsewhere over the years? If they were cougars, they were probably released or escaped pets.
That’s the word from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which issued a report today calling for the removal of the eastern cougar from the federal endangered-species list.
“We recognize that many people have seen cougars in the wild within the historical range of the eastern cougar,” said Martin Miller, the service’s Northeast Region Chief of Endangered Species. “However, we believe those cougars are not the eastern cougar subspecies. We found no information to support the existence of the eastern cougar.”
In some cases, the service says, cougars spotted in the East may have been wild cougars—of a different subspecies—that migrated from the West.
Click here to read the service’s news release and find more information about the eastern cougar.
The existence of cougars in the Adirondacks has been a hotly debated subject for years. The Wild Center has created a website devoted to the debate, and 70 percent of those who took the site’s online poll believe cougars do live in the region. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, insists that any cougars seen in the Park are former pets.
Click here to go to the Wild Center website.
A story on wildlife corridors in the March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer raises the possibility that cougars might return to the Adirondacks on their own. If they do–and if the Fish and Wild Service–is right, the cougars presumably will be the western subspecies.
Click here to read the Explorer story.