Eastern cougar lives!
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1993:
FREDERICTON, New Brunswick––Natural Resources minister Alan Graham
announced March 1 that droppings and paw prints found near the village of Juniper are
those of an eastern cougar. The cougar was tracked by provincial biologists who had been
taught to recognize the elusive signs of a big cat’s presence by members of Friends of
Eastern Panther, led by Sue Morse of Jericho, Vermont.
The eastern cougar, or catamount, is closely related to the puma, the Texas
cougar, and the Florida panther, but may be either tawny or jet black. Once present
throughout the east, the cougar was officially extirpated from its last known habitat in
Quebec in 1863, from Vermont in 1881, and from Ontario in 1884––but then one last
specimen was shot in Vermont in 1907. After that, there were no more cougars until a
New Brunswick hunter shot one in 1938.
Rumors of their presence persisted, however. The Canadian Wildlife Service
recorded 204 sightings between 1977 and 1988, including 24 in New Brunswick and 20 in
Nova Scotia. U.S. sightings were even more plentiful. Setting up a cougar hotline in 1983,
Baltimore enthusiast John Lutz had recorded 770 sightings in 23 eastern states by January
1991, including 149 sightings in 13 states in 1990. But despite intensive hunting and trap-
ping in most of the supposed cougar habitat during the 1980s, none were killed until June
1992, when a hunter claimed he shot one in self-defense near Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.
That account remains disputed, as does the identity of the animal.
There were two cougar sightings by reliable witnesses near the ANIMAL PEO-
PLE offices two years before the we came to this location. There has been one possible
sighting since, by Wolf, age 30 months, who took two weeks to describe a few halting
words at a time how he was frightened by a lion he saw out the window at dawn one morn-
ing, who was chased away by our very large German shepherd.