Connecticut mountain lion ‘crossed US’ before death

Original article on BBC
See video of the report and more links below.

A mountain lion killed on a road in the US state of Connecticut had walked halfway across the US before it died in June, scientists have said.

DNA tests showed the cat was native to the Black Hills of South Dakota, 1,800 miles (2,896km) away, scientists said.

And its DNA matched that of an animal collected by chance in 2009 and 2010 in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The evidence suggests the cat had made the longest-ever recorded journey of a land mammal, scientists say.

The mountain lion, also known as a cougar or a puma, is a type of big cat native to the Americas.

The species once ranged widely, from British Columbia in Canada to Argentina and Chile, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, but its habitat in North America is now mostly limited to the western US and Canada, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a government agency dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife and habitats.

Epic journey

When it was struck by a car and killed in June in Milford, Connecticut, about 50 miles north-east of New York City, the young, lean, 140lb (64kg) male became the first mountain lion seen in that state in more than a century, said Daniel Esty, commissioner of the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“The journey of this mountain lion is a testament to the wonders of nature and the tenacity and adaptability of this species,” Mr Esty said

The continental crossing from South Dakota to Connecticut put the cat on a path south around Lake Michigan, passed Chicago, the old industrial “rust belt” cities of Ohio and western Pennsylvania and north of New York City.

According to scientists with the US Department of Agriculture, DNA taken from the mountain lion showed its genetic structure matched a population of cats native to the sparsely populated Black Hills region of South Dakota.

The DNA also matched samples taken from hair and blood in Minnesota, directly east of South Dakota, and Wisconsin, which neighbours that state to the east, in late 2009 to early 2010.

On 5 June, the lion was seen at a school in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was struck and killed on 11 June about 01:00 local time.

In addition, scientists said the cat was neither declawed nor neutered, suggesting it was not an escaped or released captive.

Related links:

DEP: Genetic Testing Reveals Mountain Lion Killed in Milford Originated in South Dakota – ct.gov/dep

Milford mountain lion came from South Dakota, possibly by way of Canada – ctpostchronicle.com

DEEP: Mountain Lion Killed In Milford Was From South Dakota – courant.com

Mountain lion traveled 1500 miles to CT – News8 – wtnh.com.com

Biologists say don’t get too excited about other sightings.

“We have no evidence of a population besides this single individual, we received a number of calls and sightings, but have no evidence of other mountain lions in Connecticut at this time,” said Rego.

Colin McEnroe Show: Are Wild Mountain Lions Back In Connecticut?

original post

Most people want to believe there’s a breeding population of mountain lions spreading through parts of Connecticut and into New York’s Hudson Valley.

People root for this to be the case. We want to believe that where we live is not completely tame – that there’s a whiff of wildness and mystery to boring old Connecticut. And what could be wilder and more mysterious than mountain lions?

If you’re a Connecticut mountain lion believer, you’re not alone. I’ve been poking around, off and on, for more than a decade, and it’s pretty easy to find people who think they’ve seen a cougar in Winsted or Litchfield.

In the past two weeks, mountain lion fever reached a new high. People saw a mountain lion in Greenwich. Then a motorist hit and killed one in Milford. Escaped pets? A native population? a Hybrid of the two?

Colin McEnroe Show 06-20-2011 "Colin McEnroe Show 06-20-2011"
Colin McEnroe Show 06-20-2011 "Colin McEnroe Show 06-20-2011"

DEP Believes Dead Mountain Lion Was A Pet

The DEP believes that the mountain lion killed in Greenwich was a captive animal that escaped or was released. It is illegal for a private individual to keep a mountain lion in captivity in Connecticut, and the Environmental Conservation Police Division is conducting a criminal investigation into the matter.

Full article on current.com by KIM VELSEY, kvelsey@courant.com

“DEP continues to believe that the animal killed in Milford was indeed the one seen in Greenwich” in early June, DEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette said Monday afternoon. “Until we have something that we can really go on — a fresh paw print, a photo — we will go on the assumption that there is only one.”

A paw print found near the mountain lion sighting Sunday at the Audubon Preserve in Greenwich could not be determined to belong to a mountain lion, she said, but investigations are ongoing and the DEP is recommending that residents keep their children close and not leave pet food outside.