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Monday, March 24, 2008

UPDATE: Were tracks in Elkhorn made by a cougar?

Have cougars made their way to Elkhorn?

The latest evidence comes from tracks found March 7 northeast of Elkhorn by state conservation warden Jason Roberts.

A DNR mammal ecologist confirmed that the tracks were made by a cougar, according to a DNR news release.

A hair sample was collected for genetic analysis to determine whether the animal is a North American cougar.

A possible cougar was sighted near Milton a month ago.

"It is possible these (tracks) are the same cougar's, although tracks measured at the Elkhorn site seemed somewhat larger. Differences in track sizes can occur with different snow surface conditions or whether the front or hind feet are being observed," Adrian Wydeven, a DNR ecologist was quoted as saying in the news release.

"Front feet are larger than hind feet on cougars," he continued, "and it is hoped that genetic testing will be able to determine the relationships of these cougars to each other."

Urine and blood samples from the Milton cougar were submitted for genetic testing at the U.S. Forest Service Rock Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Mont., soon after they were collected on Jan. 18.

The last known wild cougars in Wisconsin, also called mountain lion or puma, disappeared during the early part of the 20th century.

Although reports of cougars have been received around the state over the ensuing years, none have been documented as wild cats since the early 1900s.

There have been several instances of captive cougars in Wisconsin escaping into the wild before recapture or disappearance. Cougars have been documented in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.

Cougars are listed as protected wild animals in Wisconsin which means a permit would be required from DNR before someone could kill the animal.

Read previous story

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Concerned Sarah said...

Oh yeah, there's a cougar out there. We live just across the Wisconsin/Walworth County border and have been listening to at least 2 cougars hissing and snarling at each other all night long. It started around 9:00pm, Wednesday, May 21, 2008. We've never heard anything like it before. After doing some research online & listening to online cougar clips, I'm 100% certain that what I've heard all night is a cougar. There are big kitties in my back yard...

May 22, 2008 1:17 AM  
Blogger Dan Plutchak, editor said...

Sarah,

Please drop us a note about the cougar.

Most think the Walworth County cougar was the one shot by Chicago police recently.

But maybe it's still around.

We'd like to follow up.

Dan Plutchak
Editor, The Week
theweek@theweekextra.com

May 22, 2008 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Dan,
Thank you for your interest in our strange encounter. I have sent you an email at theweek@theweekextra.com detailing what we heard and what we know about the recent cougar appearances.
I can be reached at foofoo34@yahoo.com
Thank you,
Sarah in Illinois

May 23, 2008 4:23 AM  

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