As western cats expand their range east, cougars in Alabama could be a reality sooner than later.
With recent cougar reports coming out of Tennessee a wildlife biologist in Alabama has indicated there potentially could be cougars within state boundaries.
Thomas Harms, the biologist with Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said “As a biologist, I need some kind of confirmed physical evidence before I can reasonably believe they are here. However, just because we don’t have any confirmation yet doesn’t mean there isn’t a possibility that mountain lions (or cougars) are here.”
There have recently been many reported sightings of cougars by residents of Alabama, but as of yet no hard evidence has surfaced. However, the likelihood seems to be rising as there may be an eastern movement of cougars from the west as there are more and more reported sightings in the east including in the U.S. and Canada.
Tennessee has photographic evidence and a confirmed hair sample of cougars in the State from 2015 so the possibility of cougars in nearby Alabama is definitely possible.
The movement of cougars east may be due to a number of factors says Harms, “displacement, lack of hunting pressure and a boom in food availability, especially with the abundance of feral hogs.”
Some residents of Albama however believe cougars, which traditionally were in the eastern U.S. never left and are just being sighted more, especially in the more wild areas. “They are here and have never left,” said a former north Alabama resident.