Pumas are found in almost every type of country, including mountain tops, grasslands, deserts, and temperate and tropical forests. They are solitary hunters, preying on animals up to the size of deer. Some individuals prey on livestock, and farmers have waged extensive war on the species, which is nonetheless still numerous in Central and South America. In North America it had largely disappeared from the eastern two thirds of the continent by 1950, except for some survivors in Florida. Since then, however, there has been expansion of its range, especially in the central United States W of the Mississippi; there have been occasional confirmed pumas in New England since the mid-1990s. Some of the individuals spotted in the East, however, have been pets that were released. Pumas avoid contact with humans and rarely attack them.
Pumas are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Felidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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