Ask an Official: Local DNR Warden discusses cougar population in Lincoln County
This week’s featured question was submitted for southern Lincoln County Conservation Warden Curt Butler
The question reads:
“I remember a while back there were a bunch of cougar sightings in a short time period it seemed like, and there was talk of us having a cougar population around here but I don’t remember anything being announced if we do or not. Has there been any more news or updates with that? Do we have cougars living around here or do you still think they are just passing through? I would imagine our weather, landscape and seasons change would be pretty prime for them to call it home. Thanks”
Answer as given by Warden Butler:
“The best information on cougars in Wisconsin can be found on the WDNR website at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/cougar.html.
“There is a map available if you click on the ‘sightings’ tab, and then ‘map.’ There were confirmed cougar sightings in Lincoln County, one in 2014, and two in 2017. While a handful of cougar sightings were confirmed in Wisconsin in recent years, cougar sightings as a whole are uncommon. The nearest established cougar population is in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, and animals dispersing through Wisconsin are believed to originate from this population. Cougars travel very far distances, and have been documented to travel over 1,000 miles. Most cougar sightings in Wisconsin are believed to be males who are covering vast areas in their search for females. There is no evidence of breeding or an established population in Wisconsin.
“WDNR staff rely almost exclusively on the public for reports of cougars and other rare mammals. Anyone with an unusual sighting or trail camera photo are encouraged to fill out the Large Mammal Observation Form so that our biologists can work to identify the animal.
“The Large Mammal Observation Form, a current list of confirmed cougar sightings, identification tips and more can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keyword ‘cougar’.”
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