Cougar caught on trail camera in western Wisconsin
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A cougar photographed from a trail camera in Buffalo County, Wisconsin the night of July 14-15. Photo via Facebook.
An avid outdoorsman using a trail camera for the first time on recently purchased land in Buffalo County came up with pictures of a wild turkey, a white-tailed deer and, surprisingly, a wild roaming cougar.
The photograph of the cougar was captured the night of July 14-15, according to a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources news release.
A wildlife biologist with the state DNR, Kris Johansen, visited the site with a warden and confirmed the background vegetation in the photograph matched the site. In addition, the biologist found and identified cougar tracks on a small patch of sand in the area.
However, with dry, hard soil throughout the area, it was not possible to track this animal. Cougars are noted for their ability to remain concealed from view and to move across large distances without being detected. The best chance for additional information on this cougar might be another trail camera or an observant individual who recognizes cougar signs.
While there have been several verified sightings of cougars in Wisconsin in recent years, this was only the second verified sighting in 2012. A cougar was verified near Crandon in northeast Wisconsin on March 26. In all cases where biological material was available (hair, scat, blood) the cougars were identified as young, male, North American cougars.
DNA testing of biological samples and other evidence has confirmed that at least six individual male cougars have visited Wisconsin since 2008.
That was the same year DNR biologists investigated cougar tracks found in March northeast of Elkhorn in Walworth County. Tracks were also investigated that year in Milton, along the Ice Age Trail on the east side of Janesville in Rock County, near Clinton about two miles north of the Illinois border and west of Beloit in the town of Newark.
DNR ecologists believe all the tracks were made by the same cougar, which ended up heading south into Illinois, and was shot by local police near Chicago that April.
The state DNR says there is currently no evidence that cougars are breeding in Wisconsin. Biologists believe the cougars known to have entered Wisconsin are males dispersing from a breeding population in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Evidence showed that at least three of these cougars moved on and left the state. One of these, the “St. Croix cougar” that entered Wisconsin from Minnesota during the winter of 2009-2010, was killed by a vehicle in Connecticut in 2011. Biologists estimate that cougar traveled at least 1,055 miles and possibly as far as 1,600 miles.
Cougars are a protected species in Wisconsin and cannot be shot unless attacking a human or a domestic animal. Cougar attacks on humans are exceedingly rare. They are rarely seen even in western states where they exist in high numbers.
For more information on cougars in Wisconsin, see the DNR website and the link for cougar sightings.