However, there has been no solid evidence of its existence in the Adirondacks since the last bounty was paid in the late 1880's. Oddly, the last cougar in New York was taken in St. Lawrence County, where the towns of Degrasse, Russell and Canton remain a hot bed of most recent sightings.
Current cougar knowledge
Most outdoor travelers recognize and understand the restorative aspects of nature. It's a fact that is evident when one witnesses how rapidly a field returns to forest. Nature works quickly.
Consider the fact that moose have repatriated the park with a viable breeding population in less than 30 years and accomplished the feat without any human intervention. They came back on their own when the time, and the land, was ripe.
Beaver, considered extinct at the turn of the century, were restocked in the Adirondacks beginning in the early 1900's. By the early 1920's, beaver were so plentiful that the state was forced to reopen a trapping season on the animal.
Currently, the park's beaver population is considerable. In fact, wildlife biologists believe it was the beaver that actually brought back the moose, through the creation of new wetland habitat.
In the west, mountain lion populations have already started to boom, with states like Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado declaring the cats completely recovered. Officials believe that changes in habitat are responsible for cougar returning to Northwest Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee and Iowa.
A population of nearly 500 cats is believed to inhabit southern Ontario's Algonquin Park. There have also been sightings reported in Vermont, New Brunswick, Quebec, Maine and Massachusetts.
Some believe that the slow reappearance of the animals in the east could be the movements of these large ranging cats.
Increased protection of wild lands and reduced human hunting pressure may have helped cougar and other predators by protecting the animals and the prey they eat. "Nationwide, there's obviously a wildlife population expansion that's occurring," explained an official with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, "In the prairie and Midwest, predators like black bears, wolves, and bobcats are beginning to return to spots where they haven't been seen in years. While most news about the environment may be of doom and gloom, I think the cougar is a real wildlife success story."