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 killed, often by shooting as was the fate of a sixteen-week-old kitten in Saratoga County in 1993, attest to the presence of cougars in the Adirondacks today. I personally know of over a dozen current or retired Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency personnel who have stated (some privately) that they have seen cougars in the Park during the past three decades.
The cougar is an integral and key component of the indigenous fauna of the Adirondacks, and every effort should be made to protect the cats. Several options for protection are available, including the retention of a law now protecting all subspecies of cougar in New York. Another option would be to proclaim the cougar “a game species with no open season,” which is the method of protecting moose in New York. By whatever option there can be no ambivalence here! This precious remnant of our natural heritage must be protected for posterity and allowed to survive and perhaps prosper in the Adirondack Park.
Peter O’Shea, Fine