“What’s exciting about this research is that it shows the Northeast has not just space but expansive wild landscapes that have the right conditions to support a large carnivore and keep it safe,” says Shelby Perry, Wildlands Ecologist at Northeast Wilderness Trust, and one of the paper’s authors. “That’s huge for how we approach rewilding and land conservation in this region.”
The seven regional landscapes range from approximately 2,500 square miles (the size of Delaware) to 10,000 square miles (nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park) and include parts of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
Northeast Wilderness Trust is actively working to protect forever-wild ecosystems in many of these places through land purchase and conservation easements. Notably, the organization recently purchased a key inholding in Adirondack Park’s Five Ponds Wilderness, the 1,056-acre Bear Pond Forest. This is the just the type of wilderness that could appeal to eastward cougars searching for mates and territories, like the “Connecticut Cat” that famously made its way from South Dakota’s Black Hills to the Twin Cities suburbs, through Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before showing up in Greenwich, Connecticut.