Re(1): Definition of a Breeding Population

“The size of the population is arbitrary but we at least have more than one breeding female” Helen Posted on February 12, 2015 at 09:57:21 AM by Helen

We are always interested in hearing the views of Laundre, who serves as the “science guy” for one of the major organizations committed to relocating cougars from the West to the Northeast. But this whole point you brought up is just another example of serial deniers raising the bar whenever one of the thresholds you and your fellow aficionados set for the rest of us are met. While you are free to set standards and establish guidelines that define your organizations philosophy, you and Chris are certainly not the final judges in this matter... you are not the appellate court in every puma are not the “shot caller” in prison lexicon, who makes the rules for the rest of us to follow regarding this or other aspects of mountain lions behavior in New England. Those of us who follow this controversy know the routine well. First skeptics said there was no proof.... but that has been swept aside by the ever mounting collection of evidence from the US and eastern Canada and public statements from agencies. Then the same group of naysayers wouldn’t accept sighting reports from ordinary citizens because they were “unreliable”, although Halfpenny’s legendary study used just such sightings for his data that became the basis for “Beast in the Garden”. At the same time, however, you would consider those reports from trained observers like the police, wildlife officers, biologists and the like who you incorrectly assumed would not reveal what they saw or what they found. That’s hasn’t been the case. We all know at least one person from that group of academics or government employees who has seen a mountain lion in New England. Now that these people are going public with their encounters we expected an enthusiastic response from your side and a mid-course correction but that hasn’t happened either. “Even experts make mistakes” is what we typically hear in these instances. Finally, doubting Thomases claimed there was no evidence of a breeding population but it turns out there is proof of this as well and there would be even more if we had a comprehension effort to make these findings. A handful of examples of Mothers with kittens have been confirmed by state agencies and studies in Canada reveal total numbers than can’t be adequately explained by a cluster of male cougars. But that still isn’t good enough; you require more of these examples of natural reproduction otherwise you believe the existing population of cougars in the Northeast will not persist. If only one female puma was in the region you might have a point. But how do you stop migrants from dispersing here or pets from being released? Some could be females. All of these cougars people are seeing from Meat Cove, Nova Scotia to Greenwich, Ct are males? Hundreds of them? Better think again. Perhaps you need to reexamine the endless sighting reports including many from state and other government employees and take a second look at evidence found in the last three decades throughout the region. The overwhelming conclusion that reasonable people have arrived at is that puma councilor exists in New England and eastern Canada. This isn’t something that happened overnight but took place over a period of decades. It is a safe assumption that a breeding population of unknown but considerable size exists in the Northeast even without the kind of evidence that you demand. It’s the same population that Rabinowitz describes. He, like us, believes that it is regional in size and contains an adequate numbers of females to be self sustaining. All of this might be easily proven with government sponsored research projects but two attempts to conduct such a project at a major university failed to be approved. No recent studies by western experts such as Kathy Zeller of UC Davis or Lindsey Bates of Utah State, both of whom are residents of New England, and who just completed lengthy puma studies in the West, have been attempted. All of this while Ortega, Morse, Laundre, Brock, and a handful of others with national reputations in this field spend their time teaching college in New England, running tracking classes or overseeing programs in Patagonia. State and federal agencies should have funded research projects with some of these experts instead of pursuing the current course of action they are currently on which is to do little or nothing to collect or confirm evidence, claim there is no proof, and declare the eastern cougar extinct. And we now know, it never existed, they are all one species.


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