Tricounty News

Public sightings of mountain lion (cougar) wanted



Minnesota Deer Hunters Association

More and more, hunters, wildlife watchers and the general public are hearing of mountain lion (cougar) sightings throughout Minnesota. Do cougars really inhabit Minnesota's landscape?

In hopes of revealing new information regarding Minnesota's cougar population, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has created a "Cougar Sightings" website reporting system and they want your help. "Our hope is to generate conversation and awareness," states MDHA Executive Director Mark Johnson. "Undoubtedly, we will get undocumented sightings, but we hope to also receive useful data in the form of photographs, eyewitness accounts, location information and maybe even proof of cougar reproduction. Hopefully, this effort will create dialogue and raise useful questions about this magnificent predator that may be living in our back yard."

The Minnesota DNR website states: There is no evidence that Minnesota has a self-sustaining breeding population. And because of their highly secretive nature and tendency to wander, it is nearly impossible to accurately determine how many individual cougars there might be in Minnesota. Over the past 30 years, DNR biologists doubt there has ever been more than a couple wanderers in the state at one time. Nevertheless, some are confirmed, and cougar confirmations in the Midwest have increased in the recent past. Many of the cougars confirmed in Minnesota have had captive origins. Released or escaped pets often cannot be distinguished from wild animals until they are killed or captured and then only if they have obvious indications of captivity (e.g., tattooed, de-clawed, or tame behavior).

According to Johnson, "MDHA's members are interested in this predator that some of their neighbors are reportedly seeing. Curiosity is growing with reported sightings. This is our attempt to provide a forum for reporting cougar sightings and hopefully provide useful data for wildlife professionals to quantify and verify cougar sightings within and adjacent to Minnesota. The fact is, we don't know enough about cougars traversing Minnesota. We hope this effort will engage the public and help define this magnificent predator's presence on Minnesota's landscape."

To report a cougar sighting, click on the MDHA website at www.mndeerhunters.com, then click on the cougar picture along the right margin of the page. To request a paper reporting sheet contact Kim Hanson at (218) 327-1103, ext. 16.

Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is a Minnesota-based nonprofit 501C(3) conservation organization dedicated toward working for tomorrow's wildlife and hunters today. For more information

contact MDHA at (218) 327-1103.