Cougar Hits Northwoods in Time for Annual Gun Deer Hunt

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A cougar ranging through west central and northern Wisconsin likely has tripped a trail camera for a third time, leading biologists to believe it is heading into the Northwoods just in time for the annual gun deer hunt.

State wildlife officials are asking hunters to report any sightings of the young, wild cougar. Based on the times and locations of the three photographs, it could be in the Flambeau State Forest or in heavily wooded Price County by now.

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.

Cougar trail cam photo
This cougar was photographed Nov. 8 by a trail camera located near the Rusk-Taylor county line.
Contributed Photo

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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammalian ecologist, 715-762-1363; Ed Culhane, DNR communications, Eau Claire, 715-781-1683


Retired2hunt's picture

  That is pretty darn neat! 


That is pretty darn neat!  I questioned the one article about 6 months ago where a cougar supposedly traveled from Dakota to the far northeast.  Based on this article these animals do appear to travel longer distances in search of territory and mates.  I really never thought these animals would travel that far but now have to change my opinion here.  Taking a look at the rare mammal form I would think most hunters will not access this form prior to going out hunting.  Maybe the questions or data asked within the form should have been printed in the article?  Anyhow - pretty darn neat to see this big cat on a trail cam and would be even better seeing it in person while hunting.


hunter25's picture

More cool and interesting

More cool and interesting information. Like I said before I was born in Upper Michigan but grew up mostly in northern Wisconsin. Even back then before we moved 25 years ago there were rumors of sightings like this one but not many people had trail cameras back then. I grew up in Marinette county so it's not one of the ones mentiones but as far as this guy has likely traveled already it's hard to say where he could turn up next. It's kind of sad when they say he is probably looking for a mate as with where he is now it could be a long while before he finds one. Unless of course there are a lot more of them around these areas than they realize.