Eastern Cougar (Puma concolor couguar) is considered by many puma biologists to be a subspecies of the North American cougar, while others believe recent genetic research suggests all North American cougars are a single subspecies. The eastern subspecies was deemed extinct by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service evaluation in 2011, while a parallel Canadian organization has taken no position on the question.
U.S. federal wildlife officials believe that cougars found in eastern North America during recent years have genetic origins in South America (as escaped captives) or are from western North America (as wandering individuals). Others say these cats are surviving members of the eastern subspecies.
History of taxonomy
In 1792, Robert Kerr of the Royal Physical Society and Royal Society of Surgeons assigned the name Felis couguar to eastern North America cougars north of Florida. John Audubon in 1851 believed that cougars in both North and South America were indistinguishable. The eastern cougar was first assigned to the subspecies Felis concolor couguar in 1929 by Nelson and Goldman.Nelson, E.W., and E.A.... Read More