FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammalian ecologist, 715-762-1363; Ed Culhane, DNR communications, Eau Claire, 715-781-1683
MADISON — State wildlife officials are warning deer hunters to keep an eye out for a cougar roaming west-central and northern Wisconsin.
Trail cameras have snapped photos of the animal three different times over the last month or so. The last photo came Nov. 8 near the Rusk-Taylor county line just east of Hawkins. Department of Natural Resources biologists believe the animal may now be in the Flambeau State Forest or in Price County.
The DNR asks anyone who sees the cougar to contact the nearest DNR office or file a report through the agency's online rare mammal observation form.
Agency biologists also are interested in photographs of the cougar's tracks.
The state Department of Natural Resources also is reminding hunters that the cougar is a protected animal in Wisconsin. It can only be shot in self defense or to prevent harm to another human being, situations that would be considered extremely unlikely but not impossible.
The cougar, which appears to be a young male in search of territory and a mate, was photographed Nov. 8 by a trail camera located near the Rusk-Taylor county line, just east of Hawkins and south of U.S. Highway 8.
Previously, a young cougar was photographed Oct. 20 by a trail camera near the community of Pray in eastern Jackson County. Four days earlier, it was captured by a trail camera near Mauston in Juneau County. The two locations are about 42 miles apart. Cougar sightings are tracked on the DNR website.
Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammalian ecologist, said the pattern of spots and markings on the animal in the first and second photographs appears to be the same. From Pray to Hawkins, where the third photograph was taken 21 days after the second, is about 80 miles. Assuming it is the same animal – and it does have similar markings on its rear legs – it averaged about 3.8 miles a day.
To report a cougar sighting please contact the nearest DNR office or take advantage of the DNR’s rare mammal observation form located online. This page can be easily located by going to the Cougars in Wisconsin page of the DNR website (type the word “cougar” in the search box).
Also, biologists would be interested in photographs of the cougar’s tracks. Pictures of tracks should include a ruler or other measuring tool in the frame. Advice for gathering and protecting any biological samples can be found at the same location online. The DNR should be contacted before any samples are shipped.