Northeast Eastern Cougar Blog: Dead cougar found in Connecticut

Dead cougar found in Connecticut

After many decades of questioning its existence, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared a specific subspecies of cougar, the eastern cougar, extinct in March this year. The Service recognizes up to 15 subspecies of cougars in North America, and many other South American subspecies are popular within the exotic pet trade.

For the reasons outlined in our 5-year review (at, it is highly unlikely that the animal killed in Connecticut is the listed eastern cougar. Our review acknowledges the existence of captive-origin mountain lions within the historical range of the eastern cougar. We believe this mountain lion is likely to be captive origin and therefore under the state's jurisdiction. We are partnering with the State of Connecticut to investigate the origin of this animal.

A few wild western lions have dispersed into the Midwest, namely a cougar that was killed in Chicago in 2008. If this were the case in Connecticut, we would likely have had more sightings from other areas as the animal made its way east. The closest verified populations of cougars can be found in Manitoba, Canada, North and South Dakota, eastern Texas, Florida and possibly Oklahoma and Nebraska.

*UPDATE 7/28/11: Tests have confirmed that this cougar was from a midwest population and was tracked through Minnesota and Wisconsin. This mountain lion traveled a distance of more than 1,500 miles from its original home in South Dakota – representing one of the longest movements ever recorded for a land mammal and nearly double the distance ever recorded for a dispersing mountain lion. The state is waiting for results that may further identify how the cougar reached Connecticut.*

Service biologists assembled 108 records dating from 1900 to 2010 with a high level of confirmation that the described animals were cougars. After careful examination, the biologists concluded all cougars reported were of other subspecies origin, including other North American and South American subspecies, that escaped or were released from captivity or that dispersed from the western United States.

During the review, the Service received 573 responses to a request for scientific information about the possible existence of the eastern cougar subspecies; conducted an extensive review of U.S. and Canadian scientific literature; and requested information from the 21 states within the historical range of the subspecies. No states expressed a belief in the existence of an eastern cougar population.

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Trisha Sutherlan Rock's Gravatar Last night, after leaving a restaurant in Chappaqua, my friend and I headed back to Greenwich. Just as we were turning the corner near Ettl Place, the headlights caught the sight of a small mountain lion. We couldn't believe it. We followed it around the neighborhood. That cat kept stopping and looking at us. I tried to get a photo on my cell phone to prove that this was indeed a cougar/mountain lion, NOT a coyote. This cat walked slowly and purposefully on long legs (it didn't 'scuttle along' like coyotes do). The fur was light tan and like a cat's, not a wolf or a dog's (fur was smooth and short). The ears were rounded, not pointed, as was the face (like a cat's face, not a dog's). We followed it up and down a few streets across several front yards until it ran to catch a rabbit. It was incredible! There really are mountain lions in Greenwich. I feel very lucky to have seen the wildcat with my friend in order to verify this was indeed a mountain lion, not a coyote.
# Posted By Trisha Sutherlan Rock | 6/16/11 10:34 AM
jeni's Gravatar My son has observed a cougar at the end of our driveway. He walked into the woods and sat on a dead fall, and agitated his tail. The neighbor across the street has seen it on his stone wall sitting. I also saw one in Scotland, Ct back in the 80's strolling across a persons yard at 1 in the morning. There is no doubt in my mind they are out there. They deserve our respect.
# Posted By jeni | 6/21/11 6:10 PM
Dave's Gravatar My daughter saw a large cat, which she described as a "female lion," stalking a deer along the Saw Mill River Parkway near Chappaqua on June 25 at about 10:30 a.m. We're from Pennsylvania and hadn't heard anything at all about the recent sightings in the area. I told her that the mountain lion was extinct in this part of the country, but now we are reading the news and thinking that this is exactly what she saw.
# Posted By Dave | 6/29/11 10:39 PM
Cindy S's Gravatar Last Sunday morning (6/26/2011) as I was standing on my deck I saw a mountain lion run from my front yard across the street and into the woods, this is the second time I have seen this animal in the last couple of years, this time I called the DEP and was told that I didn't see a mountain lion because there are NO mountain lions in Ct....I know what I saw, there have been more sightings in the area since last Sunday but the DEP won't accept it.
# Posted By Cindy S | 6/30/11 8:24 PM
jurneez's Gravatar We live in Hampton, CT, next to Scotland, CT (mentioned above). We have seen the cats 3 times in the last 4 years. Once strolling down our barn driveway, once sitting on a picnic table, and once just sitting on a stone wall, (near the cavern area that Fisher Cats live). All 3 sitings were at different times of the day. No doubt as to what they were. Beautiful. I know they are in the area, I only wish I could have grabbed a picture.
# Posted By jurneez | 12/21/11 11:39 AM
's Gravatar In Schoharie County in NY many have seen these beautiful lions crossing roads and streams. They are seen either very early or late. We have seen left overs from their huntings, that could only be explained by a lion. We have been living with them for years and hiking, but we should not be fools about their existence or their capabilities, they are wild and they are strong.
# Posted By | 1/25/12 6:04 PM
Schoharie County NY's Gravatar I had the most awe inspiring sight today of a beautiful cougar walking in a meadow near a main highway. The highway is raised up about 40 feet above the field and of course I was without a camera but nontheless I will always be on the lookout now alog that stretch of I-88
# Posted By Schoharie County NY | 7/26/12 5:48 PM