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Eastern Cougar Officially Extinct After More Than 75 Years

Having earned the name “ghost cat” for its rare sightings, the eastern cougar is now officially extinct with the last confirmed sighting in 1938.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the predator extinct. The agency is now pushing to remove the Eastern Cougar from the U.S. Endangered Species Act protections list.

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Even though the cat was declared endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1973, the last reported sighting of the animal was in 1938 when a hunter killed one in Maine.

Mark McCollough, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s lead scientist on the eastern cougar, believes the animal has likely been extinct since the 1930s.

Experts say the numbers of eastern cougars began dipping during the 1800s when European settlers began killing these predators in order to protect their livestock. Environmentalists say that deforestation also contributed to the decline by pushing away the cougars’ main prey, the white-tailed deer.

The eastern cougar once roamed parts of Canada and expanded their terrain as far south as South Carolina.

Its demise was also announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.

“The US Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a formal review of the available information and… concludes the eastern cougar is extinct and recommends the subspecies be removed from the endangered species list,” the service said at the time.

“Only western cougars still live in large enough numbers to maintain breeding populations, and they live on wild lands in the western United States and Canada.”

Until August 17, the department will accept comments regarding plans to delist the creature.

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