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eastern cougar (puma)

Fact File

Scientific Name: Puma (=Felis) concolor cougar

Classification: Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Family Felidae

Conservation Status:

  • This subspecies has been officially declared extinct

Distribution: There have been unconfirmed sightings in Albemarle, Alleghany, Amherst, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Botetourt, Bland, Brunswick, Craig, Fauquier, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Grayson, Highland, Louisa, Nelson, Orange, Page, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Suffolk, Madison, and Warren counties. This species has been known to adjust to a wide range of habitats, from rugged mountains and hardwood forests to swamps. They often rest in caves, wet or dry not specified. Large blocks of uninhabited forest are beneficial.

Identifying Characteristics

The total length of this species is 5-9 feet (cylindrical tail 2-3 feet) and it weighs from 100-200 pounds. They are dark reddish-or yellowish-brown dorsally, lighter ventrally, the tail tip is dark, and the fur is short, soft and unspotted. Since 1970, 121 sightings have been identified as possible mountain lions, but have not been officially confirmed. Most sightings occur in Shenandoah National Park and in Bedford, Amherst and Nelson County region. There is no fixed breeding season with one litter per 2-3 years with an average of 2-4 kittens being born. The young remain with their mother for 1-2 years. They may rear their kittens in a cave, a rock fissure or in a thicket. The home range of the female is 5-20 square miles, with 25 square miles or more for the male. They mark parts of their territories, such as trails, high ridges and crossings with scrapes, scratch hills, topped with urine or feces as visual or olfactory warnings. Their longevity in captivity is 12-18 years.

Last updated: August 18, 2023