The reasons for an animal's extinction are usually human-related: overhunting, habitat loss from urbanization and water degradation. Many extinct species that once lived in Georgia were killed for commercial purposes - such as the food industry and Carolina parakeet feathers for ladies' hats - or early settlers who felt these animals were a danger to their livestock and crops.
The eastern cougar, or Felis concolor couguar, is a large feline species and was once one of the most widely distributed wild cats in the United States, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This cat's range included every eastern state of the Mississippi River,including Georgia. In March 2011, the service declared the eastern cougar extinct. Many were killed in the 19th century since settlers believed they preyed on their livestock. Other reasons for their extinction included habitat loss and human encroachment. It's believed eastern cougars may have reached extinction in the state during the 1930s.
Also known as Ectopistes migratorius, the passenger pigeon was a slender pigeon species with similar physical characteristics as the mourning dove. During its existence, the passenger pigeon nested in the states throughout the southeastern United States such as Georgia and Mississippi. It dwelt in hardwood, deciduous forests. This bird was once one of the most abundant species in North America with nearly 40 million birds in existence, according to Outdoor Alabama. The last known passenger pigeon sighting was 1909. The major reason for this bird's extinction was commercial hunting since passenger pigeons were a popular cuisine choice in the 19th century. Passenger pigeons were unable to reproduce fast enough to make up for its declining population.
In Georgia, the harelip sucker, or Moxostoma lacerum, lived in the Tennessee River Basin in the northeast region of the state. However, this fish is now globally extinct, says the University of Georgia. The lips of harelip suckers were different from other fish species since the upper and lower lips were divided into two lobes. During the 19th century, the population declined heavily due to habitat fragmentation from urbanization and commercial fishing. Harelip suckers have been considered extinct since the 1970s, since the last known sighting of this fish was in the late 19th century.
The Carolina parakeet, also known as the Carolina parrot, was the only native parakeet species in the United States until its extinction in the early 20th century. The last known sighting of this bird was in the 1930s; however, this was an unofficial sighting. The mid-19th century was the last confirmed sighting of a Carolina parakeet, or Centurus carolinensis. During its existence, this bird dwelled in Georgia and other southeastern states - South Carolina, Florida and Alabama. The Carolina parakeet's range also included the Midwest and Dakotas. According to famed ornithologist John Audubon, these birds lived within large holes in deciduous trees, similar to woodpeckers.
- University of Tennessee-Knoxville: Extinction by Hunting; John Nolt; March 2001
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Eastern Cougar
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast: Eastern Cougar
- Outdoor Alabama: Passenger Pigeon
- University of Georgia -- Fishes of Georgia - Harelip Sucker
- Virginia Commonwealth University: Birds of America -- Carolina Parakeet
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