Eastern cougar is officially extinct, government says

However, turns out there never was such an animal distinct from the Western cougar-

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week said  the eastern cougar was extinct, and said it should be taken off the endangered species.

However, it turns out most think the Eastern cougar was a distinction that made no difference because there never was a kind of cougar or mountain lion in the East any different from the increasingly common cougar of the Western United States which is reclaiming its territory in the Midwest and the East at a pretty good rate.

The debate between “lumpers” and “splitters” has been common among biologists studying species and sub-species.  A lumper would say the so-called “eastern cougar never did differ significantly from other cougar in the United States.  A similar controversy has of course been part of the restoration of the gray wolf to the Western United States, the Great Lakes and the red wolf of the Carolinas. The latter is very similar to the wolves of eastern Canada in Quebec Province.

U.S. Declares Eastern Cougar Extinct, With an Asterisk. By Felicity Barringer. New York Times.

Court Victory Stops Corporate Ranching on 450,000 Acres of Public Land in Southern Idaho

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On February 28, 2011 Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the United States District Court for Idaho agreed with Western Watersheds Project and reimposed an injunction stopping livestock grazing on 17 grazing allotments covering over 450,000 acres of public land in the Jarbidge Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management in southern Idaho.

The allotments closed under this injunction contain some of the most important remaining habitat for sage grouse, California bighorn sheep, the threatened plant species slickspot peppergrass as well as native redband trout, pygmy rabbits and pronghorn antelope.

March 4 news story added. Federal judge shuts down some Jarbidge grazing allotments. By Laura Lundquist. Magic Valley Times News

Here is Western Watersheds Project’s News Release on this important victory:

Western Watersheds Project Wins A Federal Court Injunction Stopping Livestock Grazing on over 450,000 Acres of Public Land in Southern Idaho

Greater sage grouse, pygmy rabbit and Slickspot peppergrass have won a reprieve from livestock grazing which has decimated their populations and destroyed their habitat. Late yesterday, Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the federal District for Idaho held BLM, various Simplot corporate entities, and other corporate ranching operations to the terms of an earlier agreement, and again enjoined livestock grazing on 17 livestock grazing allotments in southern Idaho. Read the rest of this entry »