No, cautious mothers of Midwestern farm boys, it won’t be necessary to hide your sons from an onslaught of older women but it might still be advisable to keep an eye out for other predators slinking around where you didn’t expect them.
Thanks to their status as “undesirable predators,” cougars disappeared from the Midwest and East thanks to state-sponsored bounties that began being rescinded in the 1960s and 70s when the animals only survived in the western states.
Establishing populations in North and South Dakota as well as Nebraska combined with the males’ need to find new territory to prevent interbreeding has now spread the cougar far from these starting points to Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. One male was even discovered as far east as Connecticut after making the 2400-kilometer trek from South Dakota.
Ideally, cougars require forestland for cover and areas with more prey than the waving grasses and crops of the Midwest provide, so Michelle LaRue, the lead author of the paper publicizing the success of recovery efforts, and her team encourage wildlife experts throughout the region to ready campaigns to educate the public about how to safely coexist with the creatures.
Yes, that would be much appreciated.
Saving the animals.
Photo credit: FotoliaAuthor on Google+