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Questions for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency

We have several questions that have never received direct and clear answers. We presented these questions as a list to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency.

The answers from them are on the next page as scanned images of their letter.



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Question 1

  • What is the mountain lion law in the United States and what are the penalties for violating that law?
  • How does that law affect the residents of New York and Pennsylvania?
  • Why are some states permitted to have a hunting season on cougars and other states are not?
  • Are cougars, pumas, and mountain lions different names for the same animal?

Question 2
How many different subspecies of mountain lions are legally recognized by the United States Federal Government and in what states do these subspecies reside?

Question 3
Does any other federal agency have any legal jurisdiction over the regulation of mountain lions other than U.S. Fish and Wildlife?

Question 4
Does the Endangered Species Act affect the states of Pennsylvania or New York with regards to the regulations on mountain lions, and if so, in what way?

Question 5
Is it legal to ship, sell, transfer, and or trade mountain lions between western states agencies and eastern state agencies such as the New York Department of Environment or the Pennsylvania Game Commission?

Question 6

  • If it is legal to ship, sell, transfer, and or trade mountain lions between western states agencies and eastern state agencies, do these agencies need the permission by way of notification or permit from any federal or state agency or veterinarian?
  • What documentation is required and who keeps those records and for how long?

Question 7
Is it legal to release mountain lions that are from the gene pool of cougars from the western or mid-western parts of the United States or any Canadian Province into the states of New York and or Pennsylvania by any federal or New York or Pennsylvania agency on any private, state or federal land within those states?

Question 8
Is it legal to release mountain lions that are from the gene pool of cougars from the western or mid-western parts of the United States or any Canadian Province into the states of New York and or Pennsylvania by any profit or nonprofit foundation agency on any private, state or federal land within those states?

Question 9
Is it legal for any private individual and or group of individuals acting alone or in concert under the name of any other agency or group to release a mountain lion, regardless of gene pool, so that it can free-roam on private, state, or federal land within the states of New York or Pennsylvania?

Question 10

  • Are pet mountain lions that are released into the wilds of New York or Pennsylvania protected by any federal law, and if so, please identify that law?
  • In other words, is it legal to shoot a pet mountain lion that has been released into the wilds of New York or Pennsylvania?
  • I was informed by the owner of an exotic cat menagerie in central Pennsylvania and the owner of a pet mountain lion for ten years that "a loose pet mountain lion is extremely dangerous". Does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff agree or disagree with that statement and why?

Question 11
Are mountain lions that are from the gene pools in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Oregon, Wyoming, Nebraska, and or the Dakotas protected by any federal law when these mountain lions are brought to New York and Pennsylvania and released into the wilds of either state?

Question 12

  • Has the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency ever recommended, encouraged, and/or promoted the re-introduction or releasing of mountain lions into the wilds of New York or Pennsylvania?
  • If so, please provide all federal documents that recommend or promote the re-introduction of mountain lions into the wilds of New York or Pennsylvania.

Question 13

  • Does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency have any documentation that any state or federal agency, any private or nonprofit group, or any individual or individuals has ever released or is currently releasing mountain lions into the wilds of New York and Pennsylvania?
  • If so, please send us a copy of that documentation.

Question 14
Florida currently has a Similarity of Appearance rule from the Federal Register/ Vol. 56, No 157/ Wednesday, August 14, 1991 / Rules and Regulations 40265-20267. This is the final adoption of the 50 CFR Part 17, RIN 1016-AB42 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service for Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status under "Similarity of Appearance" Provisions for Felis concolor in Florida. Does the Similarity of appearance rule apply to New York or Pennsylvania? Please explain the "Similarity of Appearance" rule.

Question 15

  • Is there any attempt by any state or federal agency, any private or nonprofit group, or any individual or individuals to adopt a Similarity of Appearance rule for the Eastern Cougar (Felis concolor cougar) in either New York or Pennsylvania?
  • If there is, what process and data must be documented for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to adopt a Similarity of Appearance rule for New York and or Pennsylvania?
  • Has this process been started?
  • Will there be federal hearings on this issue if it arises and will residents of Pennsylvania and New York be notified and invited to these hearings?
  • Will you place me on the official mailing list for any notification regarding the change of status of the federal mountain lion law in New York and Pennsylvania?
  • Who presides over these hearings?
  • What is the burden of proof to change the existing federal laws and regulations in Pennsylvania and New York?

Question 16
Mr. Vern Ross, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission has stated in July 2005 that there is no penalty for shooting a mountain lion in Pennsylvania when it is in defense of that person and or his property. I was informed by one of Pennsylvania's foresters in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that the head of law enforcement at the Pennsylvania Game Commission says if someone shoots a mountain lion, his office will assist U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers in prosecuting that individual and they will be fined $4000. Is that true?

Question 17
My local Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer has informed me that there are no mountain lions in Pennsylvania, but if I shoot a mountain lion, I better have claw marks on me. If I wait until a cougar is attacking me, I will be dead. The Wyoming Fish and Game Department has a mini-course on the Internet on mountain lions for hikers, hunters, and fishermen and women. They tell an individual to observe a mountain lion's behavior at 200 yards, and then 100 yards, but they state that if a mountain lion appears to be sneaking around you or pins its ears at a distance of 50 yards or less you should shoot if you have a gun. Vern Ross has stated there is no penalty if a person shoots a mountain lion in Pennsylvania in self-defense. No one is willing to define specifically what self-defense is and what it means.

  • What is the definition used by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers to determine when and under what circumstances a person can shoot a mountain lion in self-dense of themselves, their family, or their animals?

Question 18

  • Is anyone at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency aware if any state or federal agency in New York or Pennsylvania has ever tracked or is currently tracking mountain lions with electronic tracking devices such as using GPS, satellite, and/or air surveillance in either state?
  • Please provide any internal and external documents that are in the possession of any U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency office that are related to electronic tracking of mountain lions in New York or Pennsylvania.

Question 19
Our research now has discovered more than 175 sightings of cougars in Pennsylvania alone and some of these encounters were very close encounters in both states. We have not found one resident who encountered a mountain lion on their property, in a municipality, walking on a public rural road that understood the proper safety evasive procedures one should take to avoid an attack. We are not aware of any Pennsylvania, New York or federal agency that has educated the public on how to remain safe if you encounter a mountain lion in the wilds or otherwise.

  • Why is no one providing or promoting a mountain lion safety program?
  • What precautions does your agency recommend for a person that encounters a mountain lion regardless if it is an escaped pet or otherwise? Please be specific.
  • Does New York or Pennsylvania have trained personnel to deal with problem cougars?
  • Is anyone trained to identify, track, capture live, or hunt with or without dogs to kill a nuisance mountain lion? Why do agencies advertise in these states to capture problem cats at a cost of $2,000 - $3,000 per day plus expenses?

Question 20

  • Does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department maintain a DNA database on the Eastern Cougar?
  • Does any agency or research office anywhere in the United States maintain such a database?
  • If hair or scat (How is it determined in the case of scat if the cat is a bobcat or a mountain lion? ) from a mountain lion was discovered, can the U.S. Fish and Wildlife make a positive determination if that mountain lion is an Eastern Cougar or belongs to one of the other sub-species of mountain lions in the United States?
  • If so, how is that positive determination made and is such evidence valid for legal evidence if a case has to go to court?
  • What agencies or research specialists maintain mountain lion DNA databases?
  • If they exist, does U.S. Fish and Wildlife cooperate with these DNA research centers and is such DNA analysis valid as evidence for applying federal law?
  • If members of our research team find mountain lion hair or scat evidence, who is capable of analyzing this evidence for proof of match to one of the mountain lion sub-species?
  • If we discover such evidence, can this evidence be sent to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office for analysis?
  • If so, please specify the person and place and cost. If you recommend an agency other than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, please identify the person, place, and estimated cost and turn-around time.

Question 21

  • If a mountain lion is discovered hit along the road by a vehicle in New York or Pennsylvania, who should that incident be reported to?
  • Is it mandatory that a road-killed cougar be reported to authorities? If a person discovers a road-killed mountain lion in either state, is it legal for that person to keep the carcass?

Question 22
Are Native Americans, protected by the Treaty of 1890, permitted to legally kill and possess a mountain lion or pick-up and keep a road-killed mountain lion in either state?

Question 23

  • If a mountain lion is shot in New York or Pennsylvania who should that incident be reported to?
  • Is there a federal fine and, if so, how is it determined?
  • Can someone who shoots a cougar in either state face a federal incarceration penalty?
  • Is the DNA of the mountain lion a factor in determining fines?

Question 24

  • Does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office want photographic/video evidence of mountain lions in New York or Pennsylvania?
  • If the answer is affirmative, how will the visual evidence be analyzed for valid identification?
  • Is that done by an individual or a team?

Question 25
Please provide all evidence obtained by all U.S. Fish and Wildlife offices that mountain lions are or were in the states of New York and Pennsylvania regardless of whether such mountain lions are from western states or raised on ranches on Native American reservations anywhere in North America. Please provide all photos, video, or any scientific DNA evidence that such animals are or were living in either state regardless of whether they were released intentionally or unintentionally or otherwise.

  • Have any mountain lions ever been killed in New York or Pennsylvania for any reason whatsoever?
  • If so, please provide evidence obtained and the nature of the kill.

Question 26

  • Has anyone in New York or Pennsylvania ever been charged or prosecuted for the killing of a mountain lion?
  • If so, please provide copies of all such cases including dates, names of persons involved, penalties, and agencies and persons involved in the prosecution.


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Last updated February 18, 2011 spacer cougar

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