Mountain lion killed after a two year journey across America

One of my favorite parkway bridges down in Stamford

A mountain lion killed on a Connecticut highway in June was a wild animal from South Dakota that prowled more than 1,500 miles eastward before meeting his death 70 miles from New York City, genetic tests confirmed this week.

The big cat with a long tail and an even longer tale was determined to have travelled through Minnesota and Wisconsin in late 2009 and 2010 before arriving in the posh suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, according to DNA testing of the animal and his scat.

The cougar was struck and killed on a commuter roadway, the Wilbur Cross Parkway, on June 11.

“I think it’s staggering that he was able to go 1,500 miles but also travel through those areas without being detected or killed,” said Mark Dowling, a director at the Cougar Network.

“Moving through the Midwest and Northeast, it’s a gauntlet of potential detection — roads, highways, rivers and dogs to get through,” he said.

The cross-country trek is one of the longest movements on record for a land mammal and nearly doubles any known distance traveled by a mountain lion, according to Connecticut environmental officials. It’s also the first recorded confirmation of a wild mountain lion in Connecticut in more than 100 years, officials said…

But DNA tests on the 140-pound animal, believed to be two to five years old, matched the genetic structure of the mountain lion population in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, officials said.

Other signs that he was a wild animal included the fact he was not declawed, neutered or implanted with a microchip but did have porcupine quills embedded in his tissues.

I know the area well where his life was ended. My family lived for years right next to the parkway, just over from Milford – it’s called the Merritt Parkway or the Wilbur Cross Parkway depending on whether you’re east or west of the Housatonic River.. It was one of the first limited access, dual lane highways with a median – built starting back in 1934.

Yup. Part of a stimulus plan that focused on infrastructure. Each overpass or underpass is different, but all designed by the same architect.

Not that any of that impressed Mr. Mountain Lion. Our loss.

2 thoughts on “Mountain lion killed after a two year journey across America

  1. Norteño says:

    The New Mexico State Game Commission has banned cougar trapping for sport and lowered the number of big cats that can be killed each year in some hunting zones.
    The cougar rule changes, approved Thursday in Roswell, mark a departure from regulations enacted in 2015 and will be revisited in four years under a new commission policy.
    The commission also approved a ban on traps and snares on public lands around Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos and Las Cruces, and within a half-mile of official trailheads. Training for trappers would be mandatory.
    Wildlife advocates lauded the new rules, but said the State Game Commission needs to go further by banning all traps and snares on all public land, which encompasses nearly 30 percent of New Mexico’s land mass.

    “Mountain lion, puma, cougar, panther—this cat is known by more names than just about any other mammal! But no matter what you call it, it’s still the same cat, Puma concolor, the largest of the small cat species.
    …With the exception of humans, the mountain lion has the largest range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from northern British Columbia to Argentina.”

  2. Miner's canary says:

    “Coastal fog linked to high levels of mercury found in mountain lions, study finds : Bioaccumulation contributes to levels that approach toxic thresholds in pumas” (University of California – Santa Cruz 11/26/19)
    “Marine fog brings more than cooler temperatures to coastal areas. Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have discovered elevated levels of mercury in mountain lions, the latest indication that the neurotoxin is being carried in fog, deposited on the land, and making its way up the food chain.
    Concentrations of mercury in pumas in the Santa Cruz Mountains were three times higher than lions who live outside the fog zone. Similarly, mercury levels in lichen and deer were significantly higher inside the fog belt than beyond it.
    Mercury levels found in pumas are approaching toxic thresholds that could jeopardize reproduction and even survival, according to the researchers, whose findings appear in an article that is available free online. See “Marine fog inputs appear to increase methylmercury bioaccumulation in a coastal terrestrial food web” (Nature 11/26/19)
    Mercury is a naturally occurring element and just one of several toxins released by human activities such as coal burning or mining.
    Particles ejected into the atmosphere via these processes fall to the ocean in rain, where bacteria turns mercury into methylmercury, an extremely poisonous substance. Methylmercury brought to the surface of the water returns to the atmosphere as fog, where it can enter terrestrial food chains.
    According to the researchers, this is the first study to follow the journey of methylmercury up the food chain to an apex predator—in this case, a mountain lion.
    Abnormally high concentrations of mercury were found at each stage of the food chain from lichen to lion, increasing 1,000-fold (or more) with each step, the study’s authors say.

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