Cougars May Spread to U.S. Midwest Within Decades
A new model suggests the big cats will soon recolonize Arkansas, Missouri, and other parts of the American heartland.
The cougar may be returning to America’s heartland. And it could take just a few decades, according to a new model.
A cougar roaming the Midwest isn’t as unusual as TV westerns would have us believe: The big cats—also called mountain lions and pumas—used to be abundant in the region, but development and hunting killed them off nearly a century ago.
Cougars now dwell in western states, but have been slowly expanding their ranges eastward. The cougar's hypothetical return to middle America is based on an analysis of more than 40 years of data on cougar populations and 1.1 million square miles (3 million square kilometers) of U.S. habitat. (See a map of the cougar's eastward spread.)