The Hartford Courant is reporting that the animal struck and killed by a car on the Wilbur Cross Parkway was a male mountain lion, a species declared extinct in New England earlier this year by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Officials speculate this is the same cat spotted in Greenwich, Conn., a week ago.

There have been occasional sightings throughout New England over the years, and a small band of believers say a population of the animals, also called catamount or eastern panther exist in the wild. Most wildlife officials dismiss reported sightings as mistakes, or in the case of irrefutable evidence, such as in the present case, that the animal must be one that escaped captivity or was released.

The eastern panther had been on the endangered species list until this past spring, when the USFWS decided, after a year of study, that it was extinct in the northeast. Further, their research suggested that the animal was extinct even before it was put on the list. This raises the question of why the agency would be so anxious to spend resources to take an extinct animal off the list.

Wouldn’t that money have been better spent studying populations that need protection?

Assuming that this animal had been kept captive by someone, then the questions would be who? And where? And just how many people would have these cats roaming around their property?

What’s missing from the story is just what are they doing to find out who might have had this cat as a pet, if indeed it had been domesticated.

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