Londonderry Conservation Commission sponsors cougar talk

LONDONDERRY, Vt. – The Londonderry Conservation Commission invites you to a fascinating and fact-filled talk by biologist Sue Morse entitled, “The Cougar Comes East.” The free program is Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. and will be held at Flood Brook School, Route 11, Londonderry.

There is no question about it. Cougars are not only being seen in eastern North America; some are attempting to recolonize their former habitats. Where once it was flatly dismissed as an impossibility in the so-called developed East, scientists have now documented cougar dispersals and even occupancy in a growing list of Eastern states and provinces.

cougar talk
Mother cougar and kitten. Photo by Susan C. Morse.

Join us for a magnificently illustrated introduction to cougar biology and ecology in the broad diversity of habitats where Morse has studied them, from Alberta to the Arizona-Mexico border. We will also get the lowdown regarding the latest confirmations of cougars in the East, including the recently documented suitability of a substantial amount of wild habitats from Manitoba to Louisiana and Maine to Georgia. It is only a matter of time!

Morse is a forester, habitat ecologist, professional tracker, and passionate student of the woods. She loves solving the mystery of a claw mark on a tree or figuring out who deposited a black scat in the forest surrounding her farm. Her scientific method is simple and neat. She calls it “ground truthing.” She learns facts by walking in the forest and making observations, much as naturalists John Burroughs and Henry David Thoreau and scientist Jane Goodall did in decades past.

Morse is at home in the forest. She grew up in the forests and farming country of Mount Airy and

cougar talk
Woods Scientist. Photos by Susan C. Morse.

Norristown, Pennsylvania. She comes for a long line of landscapers and foresters, and her parents, grandfather, and great-grandfather all planted and grew trees for a living. She likes to say, “Forestry runs in my sap.”

In 1994, Morse formed a nonprofit conservation organization called Keeping Track. Its mission is to inspire community participation in the long-term stewardship of wildlife habitat.

Morse lives in northern Vermont and has studied bobcats, lynx and cougars for over 40 years. She’s a self-described “catoholic.” If you’re interested in big cats or have spotted what you think is a mountain lion, you won’t want to miss this evening.

Article by Steve Swinburne

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