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August, 2015

Study: Adirondackers Support Return of Cougars

A new paper from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) looks at the social aspects and public attitudes with regard to a potential mountain lion re-colonization in the Adirondack Park. The paper finds that more than three-quarters of residents and visitors would support the idea should the animals return on their own.  Fifteen percent of Adirondackers polled said they had personally seen a mountain lion, despite the fact they were extirpated from New York State by around 1885. Some 80% said mountain lions still live in the Adirondacks, despite the paucity of evidence for an established population. At the time of >>More

May, 2015

Californians are fine with cougars

Are Californians braver, smarter, more mature, and more tolerant than Easterners? Apparently so, if you believe Peter Nye’s argument against bringing cougars back to the Adirondacks [“It’s Debatable,” January/February 2015]. As a Californian (since 1976) and an Adirondacker (a camp on Piseco Lake, and a family history in the Adirondacks from the 1700s), I have a unique perspective on this silly (and never-ending) debate. Here, within the city of Los Angeles, we have a lovely permanent cougar population. A big, beautiful male lives under the “Hollywood” sign. We hardly notice. Cougars are great at staying away from people, so much so that here, in the middle of the nation’s second-biggest city, their >>More

January, 2015

Will Cougars Return To The Adirondacks?

Darcy Wiltse, a veterinarian, was driving on Route 458 near Meacham Lake one night early last winter when she saw a large animal crossing the road. She’s convinced it was a cougar. “I saw the whole profile again. I saw the body. I saw the tail,” said Wiltse. “She even hesitated on the other side of the road before she went into the trees.” Wiltse said this was the second time she’s seen a cougar in the Adirondacks. The first one was outside her house in Lake Placid about eight years ago in early winter. In that case, the cougar >>More

July, 2014

Cougars present in Champlain Valley

I must take umbrage with your article “Keeping track of cougars” [March/April, 2014]. In it Rainer Brocke is quoted as saying the Adirondacks are a “pipsqueak park” with too few deer and too many roads for cougars to survive. The Champlain Valley is alive with deer. Just take a drive around the back roads and check it out. And in the past two years we have repeatedly sighted big cats near Lake Champlain, and none has been road kill. Many have left their tracks as proof. Bob Spring, Crown Point

January, 2014

Looking For Cougars In The Adirondacks

Last week, the organization, PROTECT the Adirondacks, announced that they plan to begin a program, entitled Cougar Watch, for developing a database of Mountain Lion sightings in and around the Park. For years, many reputable individuals have claimed to have glimpsed this large member of the cat family, which has led some people to wonder whether a small population of these highly adaptable predators currently exists within the boundaries of the Blue Line.  With all the sightings entered into a publicly accessible database, it might be easier to draw some conclusions regarding the status of this reclusive feline in northern >>More

January, 2013

Ecological case for cougars

In his review of John Laundre’s book Phantoms of the Prairie [November/December 2012] Philip Terrie writes that, “In the grand scheme of things there’s nothing that makes a polar bear more significant than a garter snake, a Bengal tiger more worthy of our attention than a chickadee.” But over the last few decades a large body of scientific work has shown that big predators like wolves and cougars are crucial to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, from the Great Plains to the African savanna. In order to overcome public resistance to the idea of reintroducing cougars in the Northeast, advocates need to >>More

September, 2011

Cougars are here; protect them

A recent Viewpoint [July/August 2011] alleged that cougars could not survive today in the Adirondack Park primarily because of the road density here. Yet cougars today have a permanent presence in the suburbs of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Denver, seemingly oblivious to road-density factors many times that in the Adirondacks. My position and that of many others is that cougars are currently present in the Adirondack Park. I feel that the population is sparse and includes the feline originally present with the addition of released captives and wanderers from western and northern populations. Sightings throughout the twentieth century plus the occasional individual cat being >>More

September, 2011

Reintroducing cougars would be folly

Two recent letters to the editor, one from a writer in Rosendale and the second from a writer in California, urge the reintroduction of cougars into the Adirondacks, one claiming that it would “help forests” and the second apparently positing that it’s a good idea simply because “cougars and people can coexist” and that “conflicts with humans are very rare.” Your readers might wish to Google “cougar attacks on humans” for multiple sources documenting cougar attacks, including some fatal ones. While attacks on humans are indeed relatively infrequent, they should not be passed over lightly. The individual from Rosendale, identified as >>More

July, 2011

Restoring cougars would help forests

One need look no further than the Department of Environmental Conservation’s 2010 Strategic Plan for Forest Management to find the rationale to restore cougars to the Adirondacks. The plan details the destructive impacts and biodiversity loss of New York’s forests from superabundant white-tailed deer, a herd now estimated at more than one million. Throughout much of New York, forest regeneration is in full arrest. Step into your nearest woodlot, state park, or forest. Notice the deer browse-line five feet high, the absence of seedlings and saplings, the carpets of deer-resistant ferns and invasive plants. Estimates of the Adirondacks’ whitetail herd >>More