Mostly found in western US, reports from Cougarnet.org confirm sightings across central and eastern states. As the territory expands for cougars, environmental experts evaluate what this means.
Where Are Cougars Sighted?
Cougarnet.org maintains an interactive map showing the locations of confirmed sightings of cougars. Look up YOUR area to see how many cougars have been seen. Since its founding in 2002, there have been over 700 confirmed sightings from Florida to New England to Arkansas.
Cougars (Puma concolor), also known as puma, mountain lion or catamount, once spread across much of the North and South American continents. They covered a larger territory than any other land mammal on Earth. They are about 24-26 inches tall at the shoulder, are about 6-8 feet in length, and can weigh 200 pounds.
Corridor Science is Cutting Edge Environmental Science
To deal with cougars and other wild animals, scientists have concentrated on corridors. ConservationCorridors.org says, “The main goal of corridors is to facilitate movement of individuals, through both dispersal and migration, so that gene flow and diversity are maintained between local populations. By linking populations throughout the landscape, there is a lower chance for extinction and greater support for species richness.”
Many species run into problems when their habitat is partially destroyed leaving it fragmented. Populations may survive for a time in a smaller habitat, but inbreeding will soon kill it off. For species to survive, they need to move from one population safe zone to another. Like a hallway connecting rooms in a building, wildlife corridors connect pockets of populations. It’s crucial for genetic viability.
Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma talks about the importance of corridors as Brazil attempts to manage its cougar population. A cub was orphaned within sight of skyscrapers. That means the cougar family had been living alongside people for years. Nocturnal, the cougars had never been seen, even by long-time residents of the area. But when a mother cougar decided to raid a chicken coop to feed her cubs, she was caught and died, leaving the cub orphaned.
Free Lesson Plans on Corridor Science
Old environmental lessons stress the importance of saving habitat–and that’s still important. But as humans have continued to destroy habitats at an alarming rate, corridor science has stepped in to talk about how species can survive even with smaller, fragmented habitats. ConservationCorridor.org has a new database of lesson plans that are searchable by grade level and keywords such as habitat fragmentation, island biogeography, migration, connectivity, and wildlife corridors. Learn about Bear 148! Then read about Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma!