Cougars in Wisconsin
Updated August 11, 2010
When, in 2008, a two year old male cougar from the Dakotas was photographed as he roamed through Wisconsin before he was killed in Chicago, he earned the distinction of being the first verified wild cougar in Wisconsin in 99 years.
A handful more cougars, also solitary males, have been verified in Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010 as they sojourned east from breeding grounds in the Dakotas or Nebraska to Upper Midwest states. Much of Wisconsin may be good cougar habitat because of extensive forest cover and deer. However, female cougars rarely travel more than 200 miles and it could be years before wild cougars are breeding here.
In May and June 2010, a cougar was suspected in a handful of livestock attacks in Juneau County in central Wisconsin. The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service–Wildlife Services examined the livestock and determined it was a cougar attack. But until there is hair, scat, paw print, clear photograph or other hard evidence, the presence of a cougar in the area won’t be considered verified.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is developing a protocol for cougar management, responding to cougar sightings, livestock attacks and cougar-human interactions. The DNR has released a draft of the “Cougar Response Protocol” because of the evident cougar in Juneau County.
The draft “Wisconsin Cougar Response Protocol” was developed by the “Wisconsin Cougar Working Group” comprised of DNR and non-DNR stakeholders. The protocol should be finalized in late 2010 following approval by DNR administrators and specialists in wildlife management and endangered species.
To report a cougar sighting or attack, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and phone so we can verify the source of the report. None of your identifier information will be included on the map or made public. Include the date, time and a description of the sighting or attack.
The protocol’s main goals are to monitor wild cougars in the state and reduce or control cougar-human conflicts, with human safety being foremost. If a cougar stops avoiding humans or attacks livestock, the protocol lays out a continuum of response actions. For example, in Juneau County, while the DNR would prefer to capture and euthanize a cougar, DNR also issued permits allowing 13 local residents to shoot a cougar that attempts to attack their pets or livestock.
Cougars are reclusive and attacks on humans are very rare. The Juneau County cougar has not shown any aggressive behavior toward people. If you encounter a cougar, maintain eye contact, use your arms and jacket to appear as large as possible and throw objects within reach. Learn more at the DNR cougar website, here.
In Wisconsin, cougars enjoy the legal status of “Protected Wild Animal” along with gray wolves, elk, moose, badgers, flying squirrels, Canada lynx, white/albino deer, woodchucks, and wolverines. As with all other wild animals, you have the right to kill a cougar any time it threatens injury or death to a human. Under all other circumstances, you must obtain a DNR permit to kill a cougar.
If you have questions about cougars, call Adrian Wydeven, the DNR large mammal specialist, at 715.762.1363. If you see a cougar or find evidence of a cougar, report it on the rare mammal observation form on the DNR website or call Wydeven. If you suspect a cougar, bear or wolf of attacking a domestic animal, immediately contact USDA-Wildlife Services at 1-800-433-0663 to investigate the depredation. To request a public meeting in your community on cougars or other natural resource issues, contact me at email@example.com or 800.978.8008.
WISCONSIN DNR COUGAR WEBSITE
LIVING WITH COUGARS
Living with wildlife in Lion Country (Colorado Division of Wildlife)
Living with Mountain Lions (Arizona Game and Fish Department)
Mountain Lion - animal tracks
Puma field guide
Acoustic and functional analysis of Mountain Lion vocalizations
Felids of Wisconsin (UW Stevens Point)
Cougar - animal diversity (University of Michigan) http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Puma_concolor.html
OTHER COUGAR SITES
The Cougar Network
Mountain Lion photos
Mountain Lion Foundation
Mountain Lion attacks