Six substantiated cases in Minnesota

It’s common for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to receive reports of cougars in the state. However, the number of verified cases is far fewer. Following is a snapshot of six of the verified cases in the past 15 years.

Most-recent confirmations

Sept. 9: A trail camera captures a cougar near Gaylord in Sibley County.

Sept. 7: At about 1 a.m. Sept. 7, a cougar walked past a trail camera that had been set up in Jackson County in southwestern Minnesota. It’s unknown whether the animal was a male or female. There have been other confirmed cougars in the area, including in 2011, when a man shot and killed a cougar hiding in a culvert in the county. He was charged early the next year with a misdemeanor count of shooting a protected animal.

Surprised deer hunter

October 2011: A bowhunter in Otter Tail County captured on his trail camera an image of a cougar about 15 yards from his deer stand. A DNR wildlife manager later confirmed the animal in the photo was indeed a cougar.

Roadkill

September 2009: A motorist driving at night struck and killed a 110-pound male cougar on the south side of Bemidji. Genetic testing later confirmed the animal originated in the Black Hills of North Dakota. It’s believed to be the first road-killed cougar in Minnesota.

Long-distance traveler

December 2009: In early December, a police car’s dash camera recorded footage of a cougar crossing Highway 169 in the northern suburb of Champlin. DNR biologists later tracked the cat east through the metro area, collecting hair and scat samples along the way. Eighteen months later, the cougar — after traveling about 1,700 miles — was hit by a vehicle in Connecticut.

Public safety risk

May 2002: Bloomington police shot and killed a female cougar near a popular walking path. There’s no way to know if the animal was wild or at one time had been in captivity, though DNR officials say its behavior wasn’t typical of a wild animal.