Large Cat Spotted in Wisconsin Confirmed as Wild Cougar

Genetic testing shows the cat sighted near Milton is a wild cougar, not an escaped captive animal.

Posted: March 28 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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Large Cat Spotted in Wisconsin Confirmed as Wild Cougar
A wild cougar similar to the one shown here was spotted in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources said DNA evidence indicates that a big cat seen near Milton, Wis., is a wild cougar from North America. Researchers believe the cougar may have migrated from a population of the cats near the Black Hills of South Dakota, The Associated Press reports.

The appearance of the wild cougar is the first in a century, DNR researchers said. The team, led by geneticist Michael Schwartz, reported that the DNA matched that of cats from North America. Had the DNA matched that of South American cougars, researchers would have concluded that the big cat was a formerly captive animal that had managed to escape.

The DNA was taken from blood and urine samples. Pawprints, found near where the cat was sighted in the Rock County town of Milton, indicate that the cougar is a young male weighing about 120 pounds.

Wild cougars were last seen in Wisconsin in the early 1900s, according to DNR records. Adrian Wydeven, a DNR mammal ecologist, said the wild cougar population in Wisconsin could be on the rebound, just as the wolf population was in the 1970s.

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Linda    Taylor, WI

6/20/2014 6:13:03 PM

We have been hearing what sounds to be a large wild cat, for several nights now in Taylor, Wisconsin which is in Jackson County. It is very loud and sounds like one of the big cats you would see at a zoo.
Has anyone in this area heard or seen it?

Jeff    Amherst, WI

1/27/2013 7:24:12 AM

Yesterday 1-26-13, I and my friend John were at the end of Dam road on the Big Eau Plain flowage. On the side of the dam we saw a large cat that was charcoal to black in color. As it walked away from us it went by a hi line pole and we judged it to be 4 ft long. It took time to pounce on something before making it's way off. A great sighting.

Cat Editor    Irvine, CA

8/27/2012 1:43:45 PM

Wow, Brooke, that is tough to say. But I would guess that the businesses and highway were built in the cat's territory. Big cats have quite a large territory range. Sadly, our developments have encroached on their territory, causing them problems.

Brooke    Clintonville, WI

8/18/2012 11:19:47 PM

My husband said he saw a big black cat behind our barn by our dog kennel a couple days ago. Theres not many trees around our house, we have businesses on both sides of us and a highway in front if our house. The closest forest is 3 miles down the road. What would make it come up so far when there's plenty of deer in the woods?

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