Ghost cat. Catamount. Puma. Painter. Panther. Mountain lion. Cougar. The many names given the nation's largest cat convey the mystery surrounding this solitary hunter. But the variety of names also demonstrates the cougar's original distribution across the North American continent and from southern Canada to the tip of South America.
Once the most widely distributed land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, cougars have been eliminated from about two-thirds of their original range. Only western cougars and Florida panthers still live in large enough numbers to maintain breeding populations. Historic accounts and observations of western cougars and Florida panthers provide biologists with information for the cats that once lived east of the Mississippi.
Although generally presumed extinct in the wild, the eastern cougar subspecies remained protected by the Endangered Species Act. Eastern cougars historically ranged from Michigan, southern Ontario, eastern Canada and Maine south to South Carolina and west across Tennessee. At one time, they lived in every Eastern state in a variety of habitats including coastal marshes, mountains and forests.
Removal from Endangered Species List
The Five-Year Review
Links to Non-Fish and Wildlife Service Sites