A new study by wildlife biologist John Laundre concludes that the Adirondack Park has enough wild habitat and prey to support up to 350 cougars—a finding dismissed as “a fantasy” by another biologist who once investigated the feasibility of restoring cougars to the region.
“It’s a great idea. We looked at it thirty years ago,” said Rainer Brocke, a professor emeritus at the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry. “We found there wasn’t any chance for them.” » Continue Reading.
While walking through the West Virginian highlands, John Davis was struck by the character of the forest: all the trees were middle-aged and the ground was covered with ferns. There were almost no saplings or wildflowers.
“You could almost call them fern glades,” he said. “To the eye, they’re very pretty, but they’re biologically impoverished. These forests just aren’t regenerating themselves.” The problem is that deer are overbrowsing. And the solution, Davis says, is to bring back the cougar.
A former conservation director of the Adirondack Council, Davis this week finished a 7,600-mile, 280-day journey from the southern tip of Florida to the eastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. He traveled mostly by foot, bike, and canoe. » Continue Reading.
Last week we learned that the cougar killed this year in Connecticut had wandered through the Adirondacks, having started its incredible 1,800-mile journey in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The news came a full eight months after the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) took photographs of the cougar’s tracks and collected hair samples. A few online commenters suggested that the department was intentionally sitting on the information. Brian Nearing reports in the Albany Times Union that DEC didn’t notify local officials of the potential sighting.
“It does no one any good to put out conjectural information,” Gordon Batcheller, DEC chief wildlife biologist, told the Times Union. “We waited until we had solid evidence in hand. The report is finalized and we are pleased to be able to speak about it.” » Continue Reading.
The news that a mountain lion killed on a Connecticut highway had migrated more than 1,500 miles from South Dakota raises an intriguing question: could the cats return to the Adirondacks someday?
The short answer: “someday” is a long way off.
Christopher Spatz, president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, said it took twenty years for cougars from the South Dakota’s Black Hills to establish a small population (thirteen adults) in the Nebraska panhandle—just 120 miles away.
“It might take them forty years to get to Minnesota,” he said. “If you project that eastward, you’re talking a century before they get to the Adirondacks.” » Continue Reading.
Does the eastern cougar still exist? A few weeks ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that it does not—a finding that’s unlikely to end the debate over whether cougars live in the Adirondacks.
Here’s another question: did the eastern cougar ever exist?
No one disputes that cougars once roamed the Adirondacks and the rest of the East. Indeed, the Fish and Wildlife Service report describes the cougar as “the most widely distributed land mammal in the New World.” The cats have adapted to a variety of habitats, including forests, swamps, deserts, and high mountains. » Continue Reading.
Although the eastern cougar (a.ka. puma, panther, catamount) has been on the endangered species list since 1973, its existence has long been questioned (especially here in the Adirondacks). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a formal review of the available information and, in a report issued today, concludes the eastern cougar is extinct and recommends the subspecies be removed from the endangered species list.
New York State paid its last bounty on a mountain lion killed in Hamilton County in 1894; just over 150 state and county mountain lion bounties were paid between 1860 and 1894. Before he died in 1849, professional hunter Thomas Meacham is believed to have killed 77 mountain lions. Despite their being already nearly extinct, New York State established a mountain lion bounty in 1871 and over the next eleven years 46 mountain loin bounties were claimed. Adirondack mountain lion sightings reported to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation increased markedly in about 1980, jumping from 5 in the 1960s and 9 in the 1970s, to 44 in the 1980s. Some 90 sightings were reported in the 1990s. » Continue Reading.
Several months ago, I confessed here on Adirondack Almanack that I once saw a cougar—or thought I did. I say “confessed,” because if you tell people you saw a cougar in the Adirondacks, some of them will look at you funny.
Others will tell you about their own cougar sighting.
I’m bringing up cougars again because the Adirondack Explorer recently received an interesting letter from Don Leadley, a longtime outdoorsman from Lake Pleasant. Leadley responded to an Explorer column written by our publisher, Tom Woodman, discussing our endless fascination with the possibility that cougars may be living in our midst. » Continue Reading.
I saw it on Route 28 just west of McKeever. It was definitely feline. You could tell by the way it crouched next to the guardrail, looking like it wanted to spring across the road. And it was big.
“A cougar!” I shouted.
By the time my passenger looked, the cat had retreated to the other side of the guardrail and was ambling away from the road.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says wild cougars (also known as mountain lions, panthers, and pumas) have not lived in the Adirondacks since the nineteenth century. The agency concedes that cougars are spotted on occasion, but it insists that they are released pets. Last week, DEC denounced as a hoax a rumor that a cougar had been struck and killed by a vehicle in Black Brook. » Continue Reading.
We received a unusual media announcement from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) spokesperson David Winchell yesterday pointing out that a heavily circulated photograph of a dead mountain lion in the back of a pick-up (left) is in fact a hoax. The e-mails typically claim local forest rangers have seized the animal in order to bolster arguments that there are no breeding populations of mountain lions (also known as panthers, pumas, catamounts, or cougars). The most recent message (and this has circulated a number of times on internet message boards) claims the cougar was recently hit by a vehicle near Black Brook in Clinton County. The message also claims that New York Forest Rangers responded to the incident. “This photo and messages first appeared in Western New York in December 2009 claiming that the mountain lion had been killed in Erie County,” Winchell told the Almanack. “Since then, the false reports have moved across the State claiming the dead mountain lion was found in various locales and now has arrived in Northern New York.” » Continue Reading.
It’s safe to say Bob Marshall had left a lasting impression and significant legacy by the time of his death at the age of 38. Although he served only briefly in government—in the 1930s he was chief of forestry in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and then head of recreation management in the Forest Service—his ideas about wilderness preservation have had a lasting impact on wild places across the nation. Best known as the founder of the Wilderness Society, Marshall, with his brother George (and their guide Herb Clark) were the first Adirondack 46ers. The book Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, edited by the Adirondack Almanack contributor and Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown, presents a variety of Marshall’s writings related to the region. Bob Marshall’s father was Louis Marshall, considered a key player in the founding of the New York State Forest Ranger program and the State Ranger School in Wanakena. Bob Marshall grew up in New York City but spent youthful summers formulating his wilderness ethic in the Adirondacks. Although he was a prolific writer, only eleven of his articles or journals have been published, and so Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks in an important contribution to the history of the Marshalls, wilderness preservation, and the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
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