Wednesday, March 2, 2011

End of the Cougar 'Big Foot'

Today is a sad day for all conservationists and for all of the non-conservationists. We lost someone. A species that was long questioned of its existence, yet a glimmer of hope still lingered in the eyes of cougar enthusiasts. Named the "ghost cat", the Eastern Cougar has been official declared extinct by the U.S FIsh and Wildlife Services on the 2nd of March of 2011.

Eastern Cougar (Puma concolor couguar) is a subspecies of the puma or mountain lion which since the killing of the last known individual in 1938 has been surrounded by a lot of speculation and myths.

Not a lot can be said about this unique subspecies as perhaps it vanished too soon for proper research to be conducted, thus its confirmed loss today, signifies, among many things, the loss of potentially insightful scientific knowledge that will never be obtained.

In 1973, the Eastern Cougar was placed in the endangered species list, e

ven though it wasn't certain whether the subspecies still walked around Florida. It is said that some hunters and outdoor enthusiast believed that an

Eastern Cougar

elusive breeding population was still roaming around. Encouraged by the people and backed by e 108 confirmed sighting between 1900 and 2010 from the Wildlife Service, researchers gathered in order to find that "ghost" population, but came back empty-handed.

If there was a breeding population, there should have been traces of it, scats, snow tracks, road-kills, caught in trail cameras, just to name a few. But nothing was detected, not a single trace.

It is certainly a great loss for the planet and many conservationists may feel defeated, however, there is still time to save the other subspecies of puma: the Florida Panther.

If the confirmation of the extinction of the Easter Cougar, conservation efforts can now turn to the other threatened mammal, hopefully having a happier-everafter.

The Florida Panther can be rescued from extinction by preservation its current habitat and reintroducing it to its historical homes. And there is a perfect place to start: Okefenokee refuge

Sure it is a bit unpronounceable but the pumas will not mind as it seems that is houses the habitat requirements which would perhaps save this equally unique subspecies and restore nature's balance.

Pumas, being a top predator, have a critical control on the lower trophic levels, in a process called Mesopredator suppression, and the dramatic loss of such predators is thus resulting in the increase of this larger herbivores, which can potentially have catrastrophic effect to the ecosystem around them. One consequence is the overgrazing of the flora by feral hog, which include several native plants. Being a

Florida Panther


species the feral hog is a threat to the native biodiversity found in Okefenokee, but with the

reintroduction of Florida Panthers, the numbers of feral hogs would decrease and therefore this precious forest ecosystem which sustains many other endangered animals would be restored.

These news only show that extinction happened and is happening and that there is still time for many of our planet non-huan earthlings to be rescued from extinction if we give them a helping-hand.
Feral Hog

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