Re(1): Definition of a Breeding Population
IP: 50.204.144.106


Do we have a lion breeding population?..... we at least have to have (more than) one breeding female......How big it gets (a puma population) depends on the amount of habitat.Ē
February 12, 2015 at 09:57:21 AM by Helen

The areas we are looking at as likely sites for reoccupation by cougars in the East cover seven states and four Canadian Provinces. Those areas in the US alone total 126,000 sq. miles while the four Canadian provinces are fourteen times larger at a staggering 1,754,000 sq. mi. The challenge is to find suitable locations with good habitat, adequate food resources for cougars to occupy and estimate how wide an area this encompasses. Itís a huge portion of North America. Let me mention just a few of the places. New York alone has over a million whitetails and New England nearly as many. Some towns in Connecticut, for example, may have as many 100 deer per sq. mi. In New Brunswick and Ontario the combined deer herd numbers around 500,000. Other provinces add to the total. Edge habitat and wooded cover in these areas are beyond anyoneís calculation and all we have to do is find sites for a few female cougars to breed and set off a population expansion? Almost any spot you pick in this huge land mass has what cougars need to survive, especially along coastal regions in New England and the Maritimes, and in southern and western New York. With migration from western Canada and the US West to eastern North America a given, and escaped pets in the same category and with the debate about the survival of the eastern cougar subspecies unresolved, who wants to take the position that only males are found in this massive region of nearly two million square miles containing millions of deer and other mammals and vast stretches of suitable habitat? In the Northeast sightings of puma are in the thousands and multiple examples of evidence have been discovered so the question isnít about the presence of puma concolor anymore, or even about the issue of natural reproduction; itís about the extent of reproduction. Should we adopt Helenís position that theoretically we may only have a single female cougar in an area that is nearly the size of Alaska, Texas and California combined? This is a region where hundreds and hundreds of lions have been detected over the last five decades but oddly enough contains only one female? Thatís critical to the entire discussion from their perspective because this single example won't be enough to insure a persistent population. Restocking New England with animals from far off is what they hope to do. Thatís not how we see it. We already have two examples of natural reproduction in two NE states-each of Mothers with pairs of kittens. A third example a few miles from the border in Quebec is a road kill and we assume the kittens died from starvation, exposure or were taken by other predators once the Mother was gone it but it still demonstrates that more than one female is present in the Northeast and having litters. Similar visual reports most without the recovery of physical evidence have been reported in other parts of the region, including three examples of kitten mortality. Some but not all of these kittens may be from domestic sources. It seems weíve already met Helen and Laundreís standard in New England, but barely. Based upon kitten reports, it is likely that a number of breeding females are around that have not been observed or that we have not been able to locate. And state agencies or the USFW are not making an effort to locate them either. Pets and migration may bring more female recruits and more importantly this supply is endless. Did she mention the two discoveries in Vermont and Maine when she asked Laundre the question about breeding? Perhaps she misremembered these. Iíll leave that for Helen to explain.



ďWhat normally will happen in these frontier moves by mountain lions is that a female will disperse into an area of unoccupied, by females, habitat, attract a dispersing male and the first litter is bornĒ.



The claim by skeptics which hasnít been sustained, is that long distance migrators-all Toms, are in New England. The lack of females explains the absence of natural reproduction. This is the exact opposite of what Laundre is saying-females migrate, set up shop, then attract dispersing males. I am quick to acknowledge that Laundre is correct about this in the West since he observed it first hand but the circumstances in the East may be different. The situation with eastern Canada serving as a source for New England, however, may be similar to that in the West with South Dakota serving a source of lions for Nebraska which until recently had no resident cougars. Now they have twenty and the cornhusker state held a hunting season this year (the quota was three). Dispersers from eastern Canada are well within range of many suitable locations in New England where pumas can make a go of it. Why state and federal agencies have not made the same observation is a mystery. Pets are an issue here which eastern cougar deniers used to bring up often but less so lately because it has dawned upon them that escaped of released pets can explain the presence of some reproduction. They donít want to talk about it anymore but we do. In any event it is undeniable mountain lions are here, a number of kittens have been seen, and some evidence of breeding has been discovered. A handful of folks who post of this board still cling to the hope that things arenít the way they appear, that all the witnesses are wrong, that evidence is defective and reports can be discredited. They still believe their side will ultimately prevail and at some point release kittens into the Adirondacks-with official approval. I canít imagine how this will succeed in light of current events. A third possibility has never been brought up before and that one borders on eco-terrorism. Readers of this blog may never consider this option, because they are law abiding citizens and not radical activists but others with an agenda certainly must have. Cougar pets are not rare even in New England and it is possible to purchase such animals from a variety of sources, transport them to New England and release mountain lions in a suitable site without being detected. This may have happened already. We strongly oppose this kind of action and want to go on record discouraging anyone from trying it. But we also understand that not everyone respects the law. In this manner female cougars may end up in the Northeast whether state authorities consent to this transfer or not. Finally, it is our view that government agencies would never attempt such a thing because of the liability issues associated with the release of a predator near densely settled areas and secondly because it goes completely against their interests. Wildlife agencies don't need another controversial issue to contend with that drains their budgets and ties up lots of manpower which puts them in the spotlight and subjects them to public criticism. Keeping such an operation secret would be nearly impossible. Someone would talk.







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