On March 2, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) completed its formal review of the status of the eastern cougar (Felis concolor couguar) and concluded that the subspecies is extinct. The existence of the subspecies, listed since 1973, has long been questioned. Dr. Mark McCollough, the Service's lead scientist for subspecies, noted that the eastern cougar has likely been extinct since the 1930s. Though sightings had been reported, the Service believes they are not of the eastern cougar. Rather, the Service believes that the sightings were actually of South American subspecies held in captivity and escaped or released into the wild, or of the western United States subspecies that had migrated eastward. The Service will now prepare a proposal to remove the eastern cougar from the endangered species list.
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