The return of the cougar

 
Image from Scientific American
 
Great news for cougars: According to a recent study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, cougars (Puma concolor) are beginning to repopulate the Midwest after an extended absence going back to the early 20th century. Their population declined in the Midwest when prey dwindled and they were being hunted to protect livestock and humans. Visit this website for a timeline of their decline across the Midwest. By the end of the 20th century, the animals were mainly restricted to the Western United States.
 
Cougar populations actually started to bounce back when states began making the animals a managed-game species. With these regulations in place, the animals have been able to increase their numbers and expand their territories. Confirmed cougar sightings between 1990-2008 have been reported in Nebraska (n=67), North Dakota (n=31), Oklahoma and Texas (n=12 each), South Dakota (n=11), Missouri (n=10), Arkansas (n=8), among other Midwestern states.
 

Number of confirmed cougar sightings. Figure from: The Journal of Wildlife Management.

 

Map of established populations (green) and confirmed cougar sightings (yellow and orange). From: The Journal of Wildlife Management.

 

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