Are Cougars on Their Way to New York?
As if bears weren't frightening enough, cougars have been moving east across the United States and there's a chance they'll become more prevalent in New York.
If you've been reading WNBF.com over the past six months, you already know that I'm not a fan of predatory wildlife. Objectively, animals like bears and cougars are really interesting and I'll watch a nature documentary on them any day of the week. But as far as sharing a backyard with them goes, I'll take a hard pass 100 times out of 100.
So imagine my distress when I learned that cougars have been moving east across the United States and there's plenty of suitable habitats for them to stay in New York.
Mark Elbroch, director of the puma program at Panthera, wrote an opinion essay in the New York Times detailing places east of the Mississippi River that could prove to be a suitable forever home for cougars migrating east. And there's plenty of suitable forever homes to go around for cougars in New York State, with some of it in the Southern Tier and getting uncomfortably close to the Binghamton area.
Luckily for me, according to the article cougars are as wary of me as I am of them, so the likelihood of finding yourself on the wrong end of an angry cougar is actually pretty low. And there could be ecological benefits to cougars settling in New York, like controlling deer populations which could reduce deer-related traffic accidents. The article noted that when cougars returned to South Dakota in the 1990s, deer-related accident costs fell by $1.1 million each year.