Could Re-introducing Cougars to NY State Help Save Human Lives?
Could the reintroduction of cougars (or mountain lions) to New York and other eastern states actually save human lives?
One study says yes.
The problem as many of you know is the overabundance of deer within the region.
According to a new study done by Laura R. Prugh, who's a wildlife scientist at the University of Washington, and Sophie Gilbert, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Idaho, and several other colleagues:
Deer in the U.S. (according to 2014 data) cause 1.2 million deer-vehicle collisions annually, incurring $1.6 billion in damages and over 200 deaths, making them the most dangerous large mammal in North America to humans.
Read the full study HERE
The study says that cougars could reduce deer overpopulation, as well as motor vehicle collisions in the eastern part of the country by twenty two percent. The study says this would prevent 21,400 human injuries, 155 fatalities and $2.3 billion in avoided costs within 30 years.
There are other factors to consider, such as the spread of Lyme disease, as well as the damage caused by deer to agriculture and forest biodiversity.
The results are obviously controversial.
What about the danger to humans caused by cougars? According to the NY Times, scientists estimated that the total number of human deaths would be under thirty. That would be fewer than the number of lives saved.
One big thing to remember though, is that the study did not examine the impact of cougar attacks on livestock or pets.
Newyorkupstate.com says that the average cougar would kill 259 deer within a six year lifespan.
The NY State Department of Environmental Conversation says that cougars do not have a native, self-sustaining population, and have been absent from NY state since the 1800s.
Of course, there have been sightings, however scientist claim the cougars spotted escaped from licensed facilities. Another sighting in Connecticut in 2011 was said to be a wild cougar that traveled 1,800 miles from North Dakota.