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The eastern cougar is nominally extinct

Despite some controversy and potential footnotes, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declared on Wednesday, March 2, that the eastern cougar is extinct, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Other names for the eastern cougar include catamount, ghost cat, mountain cat, panther or puma, reports the news source.

The New York Times, however, reports that the eastern cougar "may not be extinct, exactly."

This discrepancy is due to an error in the classification of the eastern cougar as a different subspecies from the western cougar.

Today, western cougars are moving east into regions such as North and South Dakota, as well as Nebraska, according to Mark McCollough, a wildlife biologist at the FWS.

"Only western cougars still live in large enough numbers to maintain breeding populations, and they live on wild lands in the western United States and Canada," reports Discovery News.

According to the FWS official website, the eastern cougar used to be the most widespread land mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

Whether or not the eastern and western cougars are genetically the same, the former is nominally extinct. 
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