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American mountain lions, or cougars, are re-emerging in areas of the United States, reversing 100 years of decline, according to a study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, raises new conservation questions, such as how humans can live alongside the returning predators.
Three main cougar populations exist in the Midwest centered around The Black Hills in South Dakota, however, cougars are venturing far outside of this range. One male cougar from the Black Hills was found to have traveled 2,900 kilometers through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, before ending up in Connecticut.
The study investigators analyzed cougar sightings which have been reported since the 1990's to characterize confirmed sightings over time, assess habitat suitability and confirm where cougar populations are being re-established.
When cougar carcasses were recovered 76% were found to be male. As the Connecticut example shows, males are capable of traveling long distances and this finding suggests males are leading a stepping-stone dispersal of the cougar population.
For more visit www.wildlife.siuc.edu or www.cougarnet.org/.