Click here to learn more.
A new study confirms what scientists have suspected: The country is seeing a resurgence of cougars (no, not Demi Moore and Courteney Cox, but the actual wild cat kind) throughout parts of the Midwest.
It's good news for a species that has been in decline for more than 100 years — a population drop that has left a noticeable gap in the food chain.
If not for their low numbers, “cougars would be top carnivores in Midwestern ecosystems, affecting prey species populations,” says Clay Nielsen, co-author of the study and an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Scientists theorize that the spurt in cougar numbers in the Midwest is the result of a dispersal pattern over time — young cats are biologically programmed to move out on their own, away from densely populated areas, like the Black Hills in South Dakota.
In the last century, the under-population of the big cats has led to an overpopulation of white-tailed deer — cougars’ main prey. This uptick in cougar numbers could help put the ecosystem back in balance.
Their reappearance could also stir up trouble.
The conclusions of the study, which spanned two decades, have scientists pondering new questions — like whether Midwesterners can learn to coexist peacefully with an influx of the 200-pound carnivores.
“Public and wildlife managers may need to deal with increasing cougar populations in the near future if recolonization continues,” Nielsen says. “How will we all get along — or will we?”
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
Sparky the dog's owner pulled him from an icy lake, and then the pup helped two men rescue his owner after she…
Ignoring your pup's bouncing and giving him something to carry in his mouth are a few simple ways to prevent…
Between the ages of 7 and 9, your cat is old enough to have some stable wisdom but still young enough for whimsical…
If you travel a lot or can’t afford a dog’s health care costs, maybe it’s not the right time to…
If your pup is tearing up the house while you’re gone, that could be a sign that she needs more physical…
The gentle, affectionate and sociable Selkirk Rex is a good traveler and excellent therapy cat.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.