An Adirondacks environmental group wants the Department of Environmental Conservation to put forward in its new Wildlife Action Plan the possibility of reintroducing wolves and cougars. New York’s last Wildlife Action Plan was finalized in 2006. Federal law requires state plans to be updated every 10 years.
“While we applaud the DEC for completion of the new Wildlife Action Plan, we’re disappointed that the plan contains nothing about possible reintroductions of big carnivores, such as wolves and cougars, to the Adirondack Park and New York,” Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer said. “These carnivores once roamed far and wide across the Adirondacks and New York and the DEC should study the feasibility of their reintroduction,” he said.
The eastern gray wolf and cougars flourished across New York for centuries but were eliminated by hunting and bounties in the 19th century. While individual wolves and cougars have been documented periodically in the Adirondack Park, usually lone males from the Great Lakes states and Canada, there has not been a resident population for nearly 150 years.
The Adirondack Park has long lacked top carnivores, and Bauer says “We cannot rely on natural recolonization for cougars from the west. “While coyotes have helped to fill this void they do not replace these long absent top carnivores. New York’s Wildlife Action Plan should evaluate habitat viability for these carnivores and make a full assessment about their conservation status and trends within the state, the northeast region, and beyond.”
The DEC is taking public comments until July 17. Public comments can be sent to the DEC via email at SWAPcomments@dec.ny.gov.
Protect the Adirondacks is a privately funded not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park in northern New York.