The real issue in the discussion is if there a viable breeding population of mountain lions in the NE. That is the ONLY thing that really matters. It doesn't matter where they came from. If a male and female are breeding and the offspring survives and breeds, then we have a population of mountain lions. It should be noted that we did get a report from someone last year that they saw a female mountain lion with a cub in Oak Hill, NY last year. The person reporting it had lived in Montana and had seen many mountain lions before. Until we get a picture, we cannot say for certain that they are breeding.
We have heard many credible reports that in 2001 the DEC released close to a dozen Mountain Lions in Rensselearville, NY. The DEC denies this happen. Since 2001 the number of reports of mountain lion sightings seems to grow. I would venture most of them are wrong. We have had a small number of sightings from biologist and other credible people. We know that one mountain lion was removed from a farm in Coxsackie. We also heard reports of one removed from Columbia County last year. We have tracks from the Kaaterskill Clove with numerous coyote kills with hair shearing. We also saw deer kills with broken bones, broken necks, punctured skulls.
Even if these Mountain Lions are escapees, if we get a male and female breeding, then we will have a population of mountain lions in the NE. It will not matter if they are escapees or where they came from.
Here is our page on Mountain Lions: http://www.catskillmountaineer.com/animals-cougar.html