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Press Release

April 17, 2015

Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation Joins Penn State Researchers to Raise Awareness in Wildlife Conservation

Study of regionally-extinct "Nittany Lions" using cutting-edge technology to promote wildlife conservation within university and community

State College, PA - A team of researchers from Penn State University is diligently compiling samples and data to trace the disappearance of mountain lions within Pennsylvania. Once common in Pennsylvania, the last documented observation of a mountain lion within the state's borders was in 1874. The Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation proudly supports the study, showcasing in-depth wildlife research and education currently occurring within the commonwealth's borders.

Congruent with the mission of the Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation, the researchers, based in the Departments of Anthropology and Biology, hope to raise awareness about wildlife conservation within the university community and beyond using a natural tie with the school's recognizable Nittany Lion mascot. With a long, remarkable reputation for ground-breaking research and first-class education, Penn State's University Park campus sits just a few miles from the Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation's office.

"Dating back to its beginnings as an agricultural college, Penn State has an outstanding tradition of difference-making research and education involving wildlife and its habitat in Pennsylvania," said Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation Executive Director Vern Ross. "We are thrilled to support such a passionate group of students working to make an impact in their field."

Researchers will first sequence and analyze mitochondrial DNA genomes of the extinct mountain lions from Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States using the Ancient DNA laboratory at Penn State and cutting-edge genome sequencing technology. The research team is already collecting skin samples from multiple taxidermied mountain lions from Central Pennsylvania, including one on-campus at the Penn State All Sports Museum. Mitochondrial DNA is only obtained from the mother. Later phases of the project will analyze nuclear DNA that is inherited from both the mother and father. After sequencing is complete, researchers will compare data with surviving mountain lions in western states and Florida panthers to determine how the populations are related. These data should provide insight into potential conservation of surviving mountain lion populations.

"This is a very special opportunity that combines the passion of our undergraduate students with the cutting-edge research capabilities in ancient DNA and genomics at Penn State," said George Perry, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Biology and the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State. "Through this project we hope to raise awareness among the broader Penn State community, for which the Nittany Lion is our beloved mascot, about wildlife conservation and extinction issues."

Entering into its second decade of existence, the Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation continues to provide all wildlife enthusiasts with a way to show their commitment to all species of wildlife in Pennsylvania and their habitat. The foundation has already raised more than $2 million for projects across the entire Commonwealth. The Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation recognizes the importance of scientific wildlife research and education in maintaining Pennsylvania's rich outdoors heritage.

The Anthropological Genomics Laboratory at Penn State studies evolutionary ecology and conservation biology for many different species. The research team for this project is comprised mainly of students within the Departments of Anthropology and Biology, but also includes students with majors in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Wildlife & Fisheries Science, Ecology, Immunology & Infectious Disease and Statistics. To donate or receive additional details on this project, please visit: https://pennstate.useed.net/projects/205/home

All donations allocated towards this project should be made directly to Penn State.

The Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation was established to provide permanent private support for wildlife habitat enhancement, wildlife research and education, land preservation, and for the establishment of a Wildlife Education and Research Center in State College. Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation. More information about the foundation and its projects can be found at www.wildlifeforeveryone.org

For More Information Contact:

Brian Tripp
Public Relations Assistant
814-238-8138
btripp@wildlifeforeveryone.org

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