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Boston Herald, March 2, 2011

Federal researchers declare eastern cougar extinct
By The Associated Press

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Federal wildlife biologists have declared the eastern cougar to be extinct.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded there are no longer any wild populations of mountain lions in the eastern United States. Researchers believe the subspecies has probably been extinct since the 1930s.

Wednesday’s declaration paves the way for the eastern cougar to be removed from the endangered species list.

There have been numerous sightings of mountain lions from Maine to South Carolina. But the wildlife service contends those cougars were either escaped or released captives, or came from the West or from South America.

The agency’s decision to declare the eastern cougar extinct does not affect the status of the Florida panther, another endangered wildcat.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton