Declaring the eastern cougar extinct, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) removed it from the federal list of protected species.
Under guidelines established via the Endangered Species Act, FWS is authorized to remove any species if it is recovered, extinct or due to an original data error.
“Our decision to remove the eastern puma from the list due to extinction is based on information and analysis showing that the eastern puma likely has been extinct for many decades, long before its listing under the act,” FWS stated in its delisting rule. “Eastern puma sightings have not been confirmed since the 1930s, and genetic and forensic testing has confirmed that recent validated puma sightings in the East, outside Florida, were animals released or escaped from captivity or wild pumas dispersing eastward from western North America.”
(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)