When you think of cougars, you usually think of the big cats roaming mountains in the West. But researchers say evidence of cougars in the Midwest has increased considerably over the last fifteen years. So far, scientists say, the big cats have not settled permanently in the region.
Bob Allen has more:
Researchers say confirmed evidence of cougars in the Midwest has
increased considerably over the last fifteen years, and the number of
unconfirmed sightings by the public ranges into the hundreds. But so
far, scientists say, the big cats have not settled in the region. Bob Allen
The Eastern Cougar Network tracks hard evidence of cougars in
Midwestern states. That means photos, DNA samples or a carcass
confirmed by an expert.
Clay Nielsen is a wildlife researcher at Southern Illinois University in
Carbondale. He’s the scientific advisor for the Cougar Network and he
thinks cougars likely are dispersing from Western states where their
population is growing but their habitat shrinking. He says carcasses
found in the Midwest mostly turn out to be young males:
“And so a major limitation of getting populations to become established
has a lot to do with females getting here. Because some of the habitat in
the Midwest especially the forested areas the big woods are going to be
probably good habitat for them.”
Wildlife scientists say there’s no confirmed breeding population of
cougars east of the Dakotas.
For the Environment Report, I’m Bob Allen.