DNR's take on Cougars in WI

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DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Carol » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:46 am

Live Chat;
Cougars
Wednesday December 5, 2012

11:48 Adrian Wydeven:
Hello everyone! Please get your questions in now and we will start answering them at noon. To find out more on cougars, please go to dnr.wi.gov and search keyword cougar.


11:56 Comment From Harley
Is there an accurate number count in Marinette County?

11:58 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Harley,
While we have received several reports of cougars from Marinette County, we have been unable to verify any of those reports. We did receive a report in August that sounded very promising, but unfortunately, no physical evidence was available for confirmation. We do not believe there are any resident cougars in Marinette County, but they may pass through.

11:58 Comment From John Dobyns
Based on available data regarding home range size, prey availability, and interactions with other top predators, what do you think is the carrying capacity of cougars in various regions within Wisconsin?

11:58 Adrian Wydeven:
At this point we really don't know enough about cougars in WI to estimate carrying capacity, but I would guess it would be in the 100s, and areas with extensive forest cover in N Wi & Central WI have best potentials.

12:00 Comment From LPT
Are there any known resident cougars in WI, or are confirmed sightings just passing through?

12:00 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
LPT,
So far, confirmed sightings have been cougars passing through. When we've had DNA samples to track movements of individuals, they have been moving through the state fairly quickly.

12:00 Comment From Ryan
How many pray species will the cougars depend on for food

12:00 Adrian Wydeven:
In WI likely prey fro cougars would likely include deer, porcupines, beaver, snoshoe hare, as well as grouse and turkeys. The would likely take most medium and large mammals, and some of the larger bird species.

12:03 Comment From Dave O.
Hello, several of us in Jackson county have seen cougars this year. Is there any indications as to the raise in sightings/population of cougars?

12:03 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Dave O.,
We have received a trail cam photo of a cougar in Jackson County in July. We do get an increase of reports in an area when we have a confirmation, such as this.

12:03 Comment From Harley
When is it acceptable to remove one of these from private property? Does eminent danger apply here? Or do they physically need to attack for you to be able to address the issue? I have 3 deer cams set out on 5 acres and have caught images of cougar on all three recently. This frightens me because we have pets and small children. I do not want to be afraid to be outside at night.

12:03 Adrian Wydeven:
In WI you can shoot cougars in the act of attacking domestic animals on your land, and you can always shoot any animal to protect human life. Please send in your cougar pics.


12:06 Comment From Dana
is there an established tracking system (collars, for example) across state lines in order better monitor cougar habits and thier range? If so, is such data availble to the public?

12:06 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Dana,
South Dakota is collaring and radio tracking some cougars, and a few have showed up in Wisconsin. We have had our pilots check to see if they could pick up a signal from the collars, but so far no luck.

12:07 Comment From Ivan R Pearson
Have seen cougars on my land. Two. The years you said there where no cougars my two sons seen a cougar. So please stop and start tell the truth. Also had a farmer friend have a horse attack by a cougar also 10 miles away. Witch you denide also but there wgere foot prints

12:07 Adrian Wydeven:
We have produced reports for 21 years on all cougars reported in WI, so I think we have acknowledged for a long time the possible presence of cougars in WI. We have not confirned any cougar depredations on domestic animals. I believe the case you discuss was not confirmed as cougar.

12:09 Comment From Stephanie
Will cougars ever overpopulate Wisconsin?

12:09 Comment From Guest
Hello. My name is Tina Johnson. I am wondering if there are any studies being done with radio telemetry on Mountain Lion in Wisconsin? If not, are there any plans to try it?

12:09 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Stephanie,
It would be extremely unlikely for cougars to overpopulate Wisconsin. Cougars live at pretty low densities, and if they would begin to cause problems, such as livestock depredations or safety concerns, DNR would very aggressively remove those animals.

12:09 Adrian Wydeven:
We do not have any active radio telemetry studies on cougars in WI currently. We do have a collared cougar traveling through central WI currently but we don't know if its collar is working.

12:12 Comment From Betty
Are the cougars in WI aggressive to runners and bikers as they are in the California area?

12:12 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Betty,
We haven't had any reports of aggressive encounters with cougars in Wisconsin, and so far, cougars seem to be very elusive while here.

12:13 Comment From Alyssa Daniels
How would a cougar's increased death rate and decreased birth rate impact the rest of its ecosystem.

12:13 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougars probably have most effects on death rates of deer,o r other large herbivores. There predatition on deer and elk may cause some increase rates of births, but main effects would be on mortality rates.

12:15 Comment From Ryan
Is the population or deer in Wisconsin going to impact the amount of mountain lions in the state

12:15 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Ryan,
It's unlikely the population of deer will impact the number of cougars in WI. We have a lot of deer in the state, and cougars live at very low density. The amount of suitable habitat will be more limiting to their population than the amount of prey available.


12:15 Comment From Dana
when compared to wolves, are cougars as reclusive or do they tend to be more brazen?

12:15 Adrian Wydeven:
I think both wolves and cougars are reclusive, but cougars probably stick more to have cover because they ae ambush hunters, while wolves run down therir prey.

12:17 Comment From Lisa
How does the amount of snow coverage affect the mountain lion's hunting efficiency?

12:17 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Lisa,
Cougars live in western states that get more snow than we do, and they also live in desert areas with no snow, so I think snow depth doesn't make a lot of difference in their ability to hunt.

12:18 Comment From LPT
Does the DNR intend to allow or encourage a sustained cougar presence in WI or intend to discourage a local population from getting established?

12:18 Adrian Wydeven:
At thsi point DNR is only trying to learn if and where cougars can live in the state. There are no attempts being made to actively encourage them, but if they cause no problems they will be left alone.

12:18 Comment From Guest
are there any plans to do any radio telemetry studies on cats that come through or try to establish territories?

12:18 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Guest,
We have no definite plans for radio telemetry studies, though I think most of us agree it would be interesting and useful to have that type of information.

12:19 Comment From Lori Tate
How far south in Wisconsin have cougars been seen?

12:19 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Lori Tate,
The first cougar verified in WI in recent history was verified in Rock County, traveled through Walworth County, and then down to Chicago.

12:20 Comment From Ian
Why is the WI DNR down playing the number of cougars in Wisconsin?

12:20 Adrian Wydeven:
DNR currently reports any cougar we find. We have no evidence for more than an occassional cougar passing through the state.

12:21 Comment From Rick
Any DNA evidence of females yet?

12:21 Adrian Wydeven:
We have not detected any females in the state by DNA. We have gathered DNA on 5 males, and have photo evidence of a 6th male detected in WI.

12:22 Comment From Jen
Have you received any reports of sightings in Marathon County?

12:22 Adrian Wydeven:
We had a recent report of a radio collared cougar in western Marathon County caught on a trail cam.

12:24 Comment From George
What criteria do you use to verify that you have a cougar?

12:24 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
George,
In order to verify a cougar, we need physical evidence that can be inspected, photographed, or genetically tested. In the case of photos of the animal, we do a field check to verify the location (we do get quite a few hoax photos, so this is necessary). For tracks, we try to do a site visit if tracks are still identifiable, but have verified from good photos with a ruler in the photo. Hair, scat, blood, or urine can be genetically tested if appropriately collected.

12:27 Comment From Tom Feck
Could you brief us on recent verified occurences?

12:27 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Tom Feck,
So far in 2012 we've had:
a confirmed photo from Forest County in March.
confirmed photos from Buffalo, Trempeleau, Jackson, Monroe, & Iowa Counties in July & Aug.
confirmed photos of a collared cougar in Waushara & Marathon Cty in November.
And most recently confirmed tracks in Bayfield county & photos we're still working on verifying from Iron & Bayfield counties.


12:28 Comment From Slim
With estimates of 100s inhabitating the state it's obvious they're succesfully breeding and raising young. Have any young one's been seen in WI?

12:28 Adrian Wydeven:
We don't have estimates of 100s in WI. That was an estimate of carrying capcatiy. We probably have no more than than a handfull at any one time, from as few as 1 or 2 to maybe 4 or 5.

12:34 Comment From msquared
Having had an experience with what we believe was as cougar several years ago, including turning over scat to prove it, the dnr was continually denying that they could be here, why did it take so long for the dnr to from denying, to saying it was possible, to finally admitting they are here.

12:34 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
msquared,
We believe the cougars we are seeing in WI now are dispersing out of the Black Hills population in South Dakota, at least all we've genetically tested seem to have come from that population, and all have been young males. As the SD population has grown, males have been dispersing out. They disperse further than females, but we suspect at some point, females will disperse to MN, and at some time after that, to WI.

12:34 Comment From K Sullivan
What is realistic about them encountering humans?

12:34 Adrian Wydeven:
Chance of encounters are very unlikely even in the middle of cougar range. Western folks rarely see cougars when hiking through cougar territories.

12:35 Comment From Linda
Where have the cougars been seen?

12:35 Adrian Wydeven:
Check our link

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/cougar.html

Look under sightings,



12:37 Comment From Tony
When you say passing through from where to where?

12:37 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Tony,
Cougars we've been able to genetically test have been coming from the South Dakota population. Several have been verified in WI and then in MI later. One that we had genetic samples from in MN & WI was eventually killed in a car collision in Connecticut.

12:39 Comment From Jeff
do you feel they are a threat to humans that are in the woods hiking or hunting

12:39 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Jeff,
Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare, even in states that have fairly large cougar populations. Humans hunting or hiking in the woods are at little danger of a cougar attack.

12:42 Comment From Guest
I have been hearing about alot of sightings in Jefferson county, is this true?

12:42 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Guest,
We have received 4 reports of cougars from Jefferson County so far this year. None have been verified.

12:44 Comment From Josh V
Are there any known cougar attacks on humans?

12:44 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Josh V.,
There have been no cougar attacks on humans in Wisconsin in recent history. There have been at least 13 fatal attacks on humans in North America in the past 100 years.

12:44 Comment From K Sullivan
Is it farily safe to assume that with the increased amount of sightings and confirmed activity by cougars, the population is on the rise in Wisconsin and the midwest?

12:44 Adrian Wydeven:
It is apparent more cougars are moving into the Midwest, but we still have no evidence of breeding populations from Minnesota eastward. We are not finding any females in WI.

12:46 Comment From Cori
Does anyone know if there were any reports in Adams Co? My Father had heard a snarling at night that he said sounded like nothing he ever heard before and he is an avid outdoors man

12:46 Adrian Wydeven:
Cori:

We have had reports in abnd near Adams County. Vocalizations are a difficult way for confirming cougars. Lots of animals make strange sounds at night.

12:47 Comment From Guest
Why do you think there are not any resident cougar in WI?

12:47 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Guest,
At some point, we suspect there will be resident cougars in WI, but that won't happen until females start dispersing into the state. Females don't disperse as far as males, and will likely colonize MN before coming here. We anticipate MN will have a breeding, resident population before WI.

12:48 Comment From jatun
What is the potential danger to humans?

12:48 Adrian Wydeven:
While there have been attacks on people by cougar in western states, these are mostly rare. No attacks on people have been recored east of the Rocky Mountains in modern times.

12:49 Comment From Chuck Hicklin
When you say that cougars are "passing through" WI, where do you expect they might be going and why wouldn't they stay in the state?

12:49 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Chuck Hicklin,
So far, the cougars we've verified in the state have been young males. They are unlikely to stay in the state because, ultimately, they are looking for females.

12:51 Comment From Guest
So, people do NOT need to worry that mountain lions will try to take their small dogs or children. correct? do they tend to avoid people and more populated regions?

12:51 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougars mostly do try to avoid people. Risk should be no more than other animals that already live in the state such as bears, wolves, & coyotes, and the biggest animal risk is still probalby the neighbor's dog.

12:52 Comment From June
Have there ever been cougars passing through Dane county or is just Northern and Central Wisconsin?

12:52 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
June,
I don't recall that we've verified any cougars in Dane County, but its certainly possible one or more have passed through. Our website has a good map of verified cougars. If you go to the DNR homepage and type "cougar" in the search box, it will take you to our cougar pages.

12:52 Comment From Nancy McMahon
Do you keep a record of the number of reported sightings even when they are not confirmed?

12:52 Adrian Wydeven:
We record all observations we receive and define them as confirmed, probably, possible, or not likely.

12:54 Comment From John Dobyns
Does the deer hunting season have anything to do with the population of Mountain Lions in Wisconsin?

12:54 Adrian Wydeven:
There are so few cougars / mountain lions in the state I don't think they could have any impact on deer hunting.

12:54 Comment From Jennifer
Under what type of conditions do cougars establish a resident range?

12:54 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Jennifer,
Cougars would need adequate habitat and prey to set up residence. These are available in WI. They also will need the opportunity to breed, which means we won't have a resident population until females begin showing up.

12:54 Comment From CT
SO WHAT ARE THE DNR GOING TO HAVE A COUGER HUNT NOW.

12:54 Adrian Wydeven:
No plans for a cougar hunt in near future.

12:56 Comment From Ray Leonard
Is the closest known breeding still in South Dakota, or have there been documented litters in Minnesota?

12:56 Adrian Wydeven:


Nearest breeding population apears to be in Black Hills of SD, Badlands of ND, and pine ridge area of NE.

12:56 Comment From Ian L
What will the WI DNR be doing in the near/future to get an accurate count of cougars in Wisconsin Counties?

12:56 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Ian L,,
Currently we collect observation reports from the public, and try to verify when physical evidence is available. We also conduct ~8,000 miles of track surveys each winter, during which our trackers are looking for cougar tracks, along with tracks of other carnivores.

12:58 Comment From Matt
I have a photo of a cougar from our game camera from early November in Price County. Would you be interested in looking at it and if so where should I send it?

12:58 Adrian Wydeven:
Yes we are very interested. Go to site for reporting observatiosn on our web site.

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/cougar.html



12:58 Comment From Ralph
How far does a cougar normally travel in a day, unprovoked by human interaction?

12:58 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Ralph,
I'm not sure how far they can travel in a day. I do know that, based on movements we've tracked from trail cam photos, one cougar was averaging 12.7 miles/day. I suspect he was capabable of moving much further than that in a single day, however.

12:58 Comment From Don Frichtl
I'm from central IL where there's an occasional sighting. Are there breeding populations east of the Mississippi or just males looking for there territory?

12:58 Adrian Wydeven:
No known breeding populations east of the Dakotas and Nebrask except in Florida.

12:59 Comment From Jennifer
how many cubs are typical in a litter ?

12:59 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Jennifer,
I litter is typically 2-3 kittens.

1:00 Comment From Kit Deubler
In September of 2011, a cougar was spotted twice near our home on Elsie Lake in Lac du Flambeau(Vilas County). Have there been any recent reports of cougar sightings in Western Vilas County?

1:00 Adrian Wydeven:
We have several reports of cougars near the Flambeau Flowage in Iron County just to the northwest. Please submit your observations.

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/cougar.html



1:00 Comment From adrienne
Do you think with the warmer weather/ winters that is the reason cougars seem to be moving more north?

1:00 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Adrienne,
I don't think movement of cougars into WI is related to warmer weather. Cougars live in a wide range of climates.

1:02 Comment From Slim
How many cougars are estimated to be in WI at the present time?

1:02 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Slim,
We recently verified at least 2 different cougars in the state, one collared & one not. We think there may also be a 3rd, based on locations. If I had to guess, I would say there could be 2 to 5 cougars in the state at this time.

1:05 Comment From justin peterson
i have been hunting in lincoln county my whole life and i have only recently seen cougar tracks in the snow and mud in the last two years is this because there is more recources for them and they are sticking around? i belive it goes the same for bears and wolves right now

1:05 Adrian Wydeven:
Justin: We would be very interested in your reports of tracks. Please take pictures and send. I think cougar population have increased in Dakotas and Nebraska and from these states dispersers are heading eastward. Twenty years ago there were no breeding population east of Wyoming or Colorado. There have been plenty of deer in WI a long time, just not enough cougars nearby to find us.

1:05 Comment From Emily V.
What season has the largest amount of cougars

1:05 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Emily V.
We used to receive most cougar reports in the summer, when people were most likely to be out & about. Last year we received more reports in the fall, possibly from hunters reports. I suspect, however, that the occurence of cougars in the state is about the same year-round. For verification purposes, it's easier to verify in the winter because we often have tracks in the snow.

1:07 Comment From Johanna
How big of an impact do cougars have on large herbivores?

1:07 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Johanna,
Cougars exist at such low densities, they probably wouldn't have much of an impact on WI large herbivores.

1:07 Comment From Martin Jacobson
How far do female cougars disperse in comparison to males?

1:07 Adrian Wydeven:
Males have been known to disperse straightline distances of >1000 miles, but I beleive abou 250 miles is longest fro females.

1:08 Comment From Dakotah
Will they effect predators in WI

1:08 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Dakotah,
There might be some competition with other large predators, such as bears, wolves, & possibly coyotes. It's unlikely they would have any significant impact on those populations.

1:08 Comment From LRP
What was the final word on the "supposed" attack on the horse outside of Watertown. Was it confirmed cougar attack?

1:08 Adrian Wydeven:
No domestic animal attacks by cougars have been confirmed in WI.

1:10 Comment From Stephanie
Say I encounter a wild cougar, what are the appropriate actions or precautions I should be aware of?

1:10 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Stephanie,
We do have more information on our website about what to do if you encounter a cougar, but basically -
1. Don't run
2. Make yourself look as big as possible
3. Keep your eyes on the cougar and slowly back away.

1:11 Comment From George
Who does the DNA analysis? Is it in state?

1:11 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
George,
Genetic analysis is done by the US Forest Service genetics lab in Montana.

1:11 Comment From Jennifer
what can you tell us about the breeding habits of cougar?

1:11 Adrian Wydeven:
One territorial male breeds with 2 or 3 females that have home range within his territory. He prevents other males form breeding. Breeding can occur year round, but is most likely in spring. Males only spend time with females when they are in heat fro about a weeek.

1:14 Comment From Guest
What areas in WI have the promising habitat for cougars?

1:14 Comment From Betty
What type of habitat do cougars seek in Wisconsin?

1:14 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Guest & Betty,
Cougars are pretty shy animals, so anyplace with good deer densities and larger areas of good cover would be good habitat for cougars.

1:15 Comment From Tina Johnson
Hello, my aunt has seen one on several occasions in her back yard in Marquette County just outside of Oxford. She has never been afraid to be outside at night because she knows that the cat won't attack her unless it were either starving or sick. Is this the more likely case?

1:15 Adrian Wydeven:
It is unlikely a cougar would be living in such a small area to be observed several times. Do you have any eveidence of hte cougar being there? In any case she does not have to worry about going out.

1:17 Comment From Ian
I live in a rural area, is there anything to keep around the residence or in the yard that would repel cougars?

1:17 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Ian,
I don't know about products that would repel cougars, but cougars are less likely to visit areas where they would be very visible, so areas that lack brushy cover, or are very well lighted would be less appealing to a cougar.

1:17 Comment From Lori Tate
Have cougars been spotted farther south than Jackson County in WI?

1:17 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougars have been verified throughout the state, and have been confirmed in Rock, Walworth, & Iowa Counties. Last summer and this fall a cougar traveled from Buffalo County to Jo Davis County in IL.

1:18 Comment From Gary
Does the DNR use any trail cameras and if so how many?

1:18 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Gary,
DNR doesn't normally put out trail cameras to look for cougars. We have, on occasion put out cameras in areas where we've had some evidence of a cougar.

1:19 Comment From Patrick
After the cougars pass through the state, where do they end up?

1:19 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougars from WI have moved into IL and died in Chicago, traveled into parts of MI, and one traveled as far east as Connecticut and was killed by a vehicle there in June 2011.

1:20 Comment From Patty
Do you have any tips for hiking in areas where cougars might have been seen?

1:20 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Patty,
I suspect states like Montana have more advice on hiking in cougar country, but I do know that some of their advice includes not hiking alone, and making noise while you hike so you don't startle a cougar.

1:21 Comment From Emily
What time of the year is the minimum amount of cougar population?

1:21 Adrian Wydeven:
There is no regular population of cougars in WI, so there no low and high period of the year. There appears to just be lone males occassionally passing through the state.

1:23 Comment From ben
How many confirmed cougar sighting have there been in Wisconsin?

1:23 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Ben,
At the end of last year, we had confirmed at least 6 different cougars in Wisconsin since 2008.This year, so far, we've confirmed at least 2 different cougars, but possibly it could be 4 or 5.

1:23 Comment From Dakotah
Why do cougars choose to move through WI and not set up residence?

1:23 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougars as all animals want to find mates and establish regular home areas. The males moving into WI are not finding females, so they keep moving along.

1:25 Comment From Kunu
Does the WI DNR have a map on its website showing confirmed cougar sightings? If not do they plan to add one?

1:25 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Kunu,
Yes, there is a map on the DNR website showing the locations of confirmed cougars. Go to the DNR homepage and type "cougar" in the search box.

1:27 Comment From Ryan
Are the mountain lions going to push out the wolves like the wolves did to the coyotes?

1:27 Adrian Wydeven:
Wolves are more likely to restrict cougars than the other way around. While both predators sometimes kill each other , wolves living in packs have a competative advantage over cougars. In Yellowstone when wolves were introduced, cougars became more retricted to the most rugged topography.

1:28 Comment From Steve
After a couger makes a kill, do they stash the remaining carcass or do they remain nearby and watch over it? If we stumble across a potential carcass in the woods, what would it potentially look like?

1:28 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Steve,
Yes, cougars do cover (or stash) their kills. They will scrape the surrounding leaves, twigs, or snow over the carcass to cover it. They don't always stay close enough to watch over it. Bears and bobcats will also cover kills, so a covered kill doesn't necessarily mean there's a cougar in the area.

1:30 Comment From Kit Deubler
Have there been any recent reports of cougar sightings in Western Vilas County? In September 2011 there were two cougar sightings by folks near our home on Elsie Lake north of Lac du Flambeau.

1:30 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
We did receive a report from Vilas County in early November, but no evidence was available for confirmation.

1:31 Comment From Patrick
Some I know have ended up shot like the one a few years ago that made it to chicago. Do the others end up wandering back from whence they came?

1:32 Adrian Wydeven:
We are not aware of any cougar in WI making it back to its home, but normally we are not able to follow them from their homes, so we don't know where their exact home was. And unless we had it tagged you would not know where it had been. None have been found dead in WI yet.

1:35 Adrian Wydeven:
We have collected cougar observations statewide since 1991, but only since 2008 have we had any confirmed observations. The number of confirmed observations have gone up in recent years, and so far in 2012 we know of at least 3 different individuals that occured in the state.

1:35 Comment From Ryan
What's the historical confirmed cougar sightings per year? Has it gone up?

1:35 Comment From Ivan R Pearson
. .A field camera snapped this photo of a cougar last fall in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Photo credit: AP . A recent cougar attack on a Wisconsin dairy cow was the first in more than 200 years, DNR officials said. The southern Wisconsin attack occurred last Saturday on a Juneau County farm near Wonewoc. A turkey hunter heard the tussle and fired shots to deter the cougar as it tore at the 400-pound cow. The cat scurried away while the heifer had to be put down. Representatives of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said the last time a farm animal was killed by a cougar, or mountain lion, was in the 1800s.

1:36 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Ivan R Pearson,
The attack on the cow in Juneau County had initially been confirmed as a cougar attack by the investigators. When photos were forwarded, several biologists saw enough in the photos that they questioned whether it had been a cougar attack. The photos were sent to western biologists with more experience in investigating cougar attacks. They determined it did not appear to be a cougar attack. After interviewing the hunter who witnessed the attack, his description was not consistent with a cougar.

1:37 Comment From Fox
Any known cougar sightings in Brown or Outtagamie Counties?

1:37 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Fox,
We've received 3 reports for Outagamie so far this year, and 8 from Brown County. None have been confirmed.

1:38 Comment From BB
HAS THERE BEEN ANY COUGER SIGTINGS IN FOREST COUNTY

1:38 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
We did confirm a cougar in Forest County in March this year.

1:40 Comment From Greg D.
I noticed that the number of turkey flocks in Jackson County has gone down dramatically. Has the increase in cougar population caused this dramatic change in turkeys.

1:40 Adrian Wydeven:
While I am sure cougars would readily take turkeys if they could, the few cougars that have been in WI, would not likely have had any impact. We detected 1 cougar in Jackson County this year, that was in the county for only a week or two. Probably coyotes, bobcats, and perhaps in some places, wolves are probably the most important predators on turkeys in WI.

1:40 Comment From John Flynn
There was a cougar captured on a trail cam on November 17th just off of Hwy 51 in Mercer. Not certain if it was ever reported to the DNR though. (I have a copy of the photo.) I have also had one in my yard in Mercer a few years back, but it was too elusive to photo as it disappeared before I could get the camera.

1:40 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
John Flynn,
We have recently received some photos from Iron County, but would be interested to see if your photo is different. You could e-mail it to me. If you go to our cougar pages, there is a link to e-mail photos to me.

1:42 Comment From Don
What's the nearest state with a known breeding population?

1:42 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Don,
The nearest state with a breeding population is South Dakota.

1:42 Comment From Steve
Where are the cougars in Wisconsin from? Are they migrating here on their own from another population or have they escaped from captivity? I've even heard someone say that DNR has released cougars here - which I don't believe is true.

1:42 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougars have not been introduced into the state. Based on DNA evidence most of ours seem to come from SD.

1:44 Comment From justin
where does a person go to find any recent reports of a cougar in wisconsin?

1:44 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Justin,
Recent confirmed reports of cougar in WI are listed on our website on the cougar pages. To get information on other reports, you would need to look at the Rare Mammal Observations report. There is a link to it on our cougar pages. The most recent report is for 2011.

1:45 Comment From Steve Tomasko
Does the DNR have a management plan for cougars? Or are you just monitoring their presence for now?

1:45 Adrian Wydeven:
We currently have no management plan for cougars and are just trying to learn as much as we can about any cougars traveling into the state, and try to deal with any nuisance problems or concerns they may create. If a breeding population does establish we will develop a management plan.

1:46 Comment From Louise
Do you want OLD reports?

1:46 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Louise,
OLD reports aren't really very useful in terms of monitoring what's going on now, but can be interesting.

1:47 Comment From Ian
In response to Ivan,s question, what else could have attacked the horse?

1:47 Adrian Wydeven:
Horses can injure themselves in many ways, most are self inflicted.

1:48 Comment From justin
why r my questions not showing up?

1:48 Comment From jeremy
The dnr should go to the logging roads in winter wi, plenty of evidence

1:48 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Jeremy,
If you're finding cougar tracks, please take photos and send them to us. Please be sure to put a ruler, or something else, next to the track for size reference.

1:49 Comment From Kevin Donlon
To find cougars in Wisconsin. Try Coon Valley Wisconsin. Located in Vernon County. More specifically between Coon Valley and Chaseburg. I have had many farmers show me pictures and have seen them first hand.

1:49 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Kevin Donlon,
Please forward any photos to us. We cannot confirm if we can't see the evidence.

1:52 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougars like heavily wooded areas with healthy population of deer, elk or other hooved animals. Where they co-exist with wolves, cougars especially use areas with more rugged topography. Likely cougars from the Black Hills especially move east because once they leave the forest in the Great Plains, the river valleys with forest edges, are the only woodlands until they get further east in to MN or WI.

1:52 Comment From Roberta
What kind of habitat do they like?

1:53 Adrian Wydeven:
10 minute warning. Wrapping up at 2pm.

1:54 Comment From Laura Smith WLUK TV
Was that collared cougar collared by the WI DNR?

1:54 Adrian Wydeven:
Cougar was collared somewhere else, but we have not learned the origin.
1:55 Comment From Guest
Do you think we're really seeing more cougars in the state or is the growing number of trail cameras simply catching the same ones more often as they move through?

1:55 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Guest,
We probably are seeing more cougars in the state now. We can make some assumptions about travel directions and whether or not we have a single animal or more when we plot locations of photos. Genetic evidence is definitive, so we do know we've had at least 6 different cougars in the state as of the end of 2011.

1:55 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Guest,
We probably are seeing more cougars in the state now. We can make some assumptions about travel directions and whether or not we have a single animal or more when we plot locations of photos. Genetic evidence is definitive, so we do know we've had at least 6 different cougars in the state as of the end of 2011.

1:58 Comment From Dan
Who collared the one known to be in the state?

1:58 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Dan,
We're not sure who collared the cougar most recently detected in the state. We believe the cougar detected last year may have been collared on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, based on characteristics of the collar.

1:59 Comment From justin peterson
how do u know theres a collered cougar in wisconsin if u dont even know if its collar is working?

1:59 Adrian Wydeven:
The cougar was captured on a trail cam. We confirmed 2 locations in field recently.

1:59 Comment From Guest
Are cougars considered protected in wi?

1:59 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Guest,
Yes, cougars are a protected wild animal in Wisconsin.
2:00 Comment From Matt
A friend of mine had a cougar with apparent cubs on his game camera earlier this year in western Vilas County. He didn't report it because he didn't want to draw attention to himself. Curious to know what a typical litter size consists of for cougars, do they use dens and how long do cubs stick around with parents?

2:00 Adrian Wydeven:
Please send. We would love to see these.

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/cougar.html


2:00 Adrian Wydeven:
I apologize, but we will not be able to get to everyones question today. I appreciate all of the interest in cougars. If you have observed a cougar or any signs of one, please report it in the Wisconsin large mammal observation form http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat ... bsForm.asp

2:00 Comment From Austin G.
How long before you think they start breeding in WI? I have heard of people in Vilas and Onedia Counties with pictures cougars on trail cams, and then months later with caught cubs on them. do you think this is falicy, or soon to become a reality?

2:00 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Austin G.,
We anticipate MN will have a breeding population before WI does. Bobcats can look very much like cougar cubs, except with a shorter tail.

2:01 Comment From Dakotah
Will could try and see if the collar work

2:01 Adrian Wydeven:
We are trying.
2:02 Comment From Tim G.
Auntie Jane, based on the males being the primary emigrating population, would you say it is because they are looking for work? Do you think they will find the economic opportunities in Wisconsin that are suitable for setting down more permanent roots?

2:02 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Tim G.,
Hey Tim. Males will set down permanent roots when they find females here.

2:04 Comment From msquared
have you gone back to older samples and used the newer technology (ie dna testing) to see if you could confirm them as sightings?

2:04 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
msquared,
2008 was the earliest samples we had for testing, and we did have those tested when they were collected.
2:06 Comment From Mike
Any idea why male cougars would disperse east if there are no females dispersing that far?

2:06 Jane Wiedenhoeft:
Mike,
Young males are driven from their natal home ranges by older dominant male cougars. If there are no areas with females that are not already occupied by other males, they keep going.
2:06 Comment From Tina Johnson
Is the Wisconsin DNR working with other states to learn as much as they can so that when cougars do begin to repopulate the state, people can be educated to realize that the cats don't want them or their children and that we can live in peace with them and observe the majesty of these beautiful animals while realizing how vital they are to the ecosystem? Just like the way wolves have been restablished?

2:06 Adrian Wydeven:
We work very closely with biologists in MI and MN and recently shared cougar information with IL. When cougars establish breeding populations in our area it will represent a metapopulation and we need to work closely across state lines to properly manage.

Thanks for your questions.

So long, and have a great day.


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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Dewey » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:05 am

Very interesting! Thanks for posting Carol. 8-)

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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Carol » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:18 am

Too bad they would not answer any of my questions or my friends questions.....they were picking what was getting answered.
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Dewey » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:35 am

Sounds like there are more Bigfoot than cougars in WI. :roll: :lol:

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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Carol » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:34 pm

maybe they are basing it off of "Schroedinger's Cat"
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Chris Conroy » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:23 am

I always laugh at these types of things when you can see the level of knowledge people have about wildlife. I especially like the ones about whether their kids can play outside. I'd worry more about sex offenders than coyotes, wolves, or cougar's.

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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby PLB » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:01 am

Chris Conroy wrote:I always laugh at these types of things when you can see the level of knowledge people have about wildlife. I especially like the ones about whether their kids can play outside. I'd worry more about sex offenders than coyotes, wolves, or cougar's.

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X2!! Everyone has seen a cougar!! :liar: Just like everyone sees a 500 pound bear and shoots a 200 pound buck!! :roll: Think of the amount of hunters 650,000 in the woods, hundereds of thousands of trail cams running 24/7. How many confirmed cougar sightings in WI?? A handful at best.
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby BigHills BuckHunter » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:10 am

I went to college for wildlife management and one of my professors is the Head big cat specialist in state of Wisconsin. He claims they are a couple of cougars in Wisconsin and people keep getting the same one on trail camera. From what I have heard from him I dont believe him at all. I think there are quite a few more than just a "couple". He is sneaky/lying son of a gun anyways and thats the truth he has been caught with false info.

Maybe you guys wont agree but after looking at reports and studying the occurances I think there is a population of at least 20 in state of Wisconsin at this moment.

My main point: IF THEY ARE SO RECLUSIVE THEN WHY ARE THERE SO MANY REPORTS? I realize some are bogus but you cant deny a trail cam photo for the most part.

I worked at Fort McCoy on a wildife job over the summer and we found and confirmed cougar tracks. Our supervisor swept it under the table and said it was bobcat. I have seen the cougar tracks while working in Wyoming. The tracks were larger than the palm of my hand. I even took pictures and the head of wildlife says no its just a bobcat. I was so frusterated. :twisted: They knew what it was but didnt want that attention coming to the military base. :roll:
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby BigHills BuckHunter » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:12 am

BTW Thanks for the post Carol 8-)
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Knute78 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:50 am

This was a frustrating read. People kept asking the same question in different ways. Are there sighting here, or here or here?it was like they wanted to here yeah you have cougars on your farm! !

To sum it up, Yeah there are cougars in Wisconsin, most are likely just males traveling through looking for a mate. The DNR cannot really confirm or deny a local population but most likely there is no local population but the cats do move through.

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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:11 am

Carol wrote:Too bad they would not answer any of my questions or my friends questions.....they were picking what was getting answered.


What type of questions were you and your friends asking that the DNR avoided them?

I can't say for sure if a breeding population exists in WI but quite a few folks have been seeing tracks for years......do the cats come back thru an area the next year? I have never cut a cougar track but talked to guys that swear they have......think Dewey cut one a few years back?

I just find it hard to believe males keep traveling thru WI for the last 5-15+/- years and none have stayed or a female hasn't taken residence.....eve if it for a season or two.
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Dewey » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:39 am

Hodag Hunter wrote:
Carol wrote:Too bad they would not answer any of my questions or my friends questions.....they were picking what was getting answered.


What type of questions were you and your friends asking that the DNR avoided them?

I can't say for sure if a breeding population exists in WI but quite a few folks have been seeing tracks for years......do the cats come back thru an area the next year? I have never cut a cougar track but talked to guys that swear they have......[glow=red]think Dewey cut one a few years back[/glow]?

I just find it hard to believe males keep traveling thru WI for the last 5-15+/- years and none have stayed or a female hasn't taken residence.....eve if it for a season or two.


I had one actual sighting around 2001 up in Gogebic County of the UP just north of Lac Vieux Desert on HWY 210 and Misery Bay Road. It was the middle of the day and the cougar ran right in front of my truck from one side of the road to the other. There was no mistaking what my wife and I saw and this was quite the experience. I had people try to tell me it was a bobcat but can't say I have ever seen a bobcat go over a 100lbs with a tail as long as it's body! :roll: We were within 20 feet of it so we know what we saw. Later that summer there were 3 more reports of sightings by locals in the area.

Back in 2006 my bear guide spotted a cougar on his land up in Sawyer County and showed me the tracks in the sand. There was no mistaking the tracks since I have seen them previously when I bowhunted the year before in the Black Hills of South Dakota where they are pretty common. Cats have retractable claws so they are pretty easy to separate from wolf or dog tracks since they always leave claw marks in their prints. If you compared a bobcat and cougar track side by side there is no comparison as the cougar track is pretty large and a bobcat track is actually pretty small. Here is a great example of the difference......... http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-15 ... --,00.html

My other encounter was during the 2007 gun season in northern Oneida County. Heard reports of a cougar in the area but never thought much about it. Opening day just before dark I hit a good buck but made a poor shot so we waited till after dark to track. Ended up looking till almost midnight and gave up till daylight. When we picked up the bloodtrail again in the morning there were cougar tracks following the blood over the top of our tracks from the night before. By looking at the tracks in the snow it appeared they were not much older than our tracks from the night before. Pretty scary knowing that the cougar may have been behind us late that previous night in the extremely thick swamp! :shock: Never did find the buck as the bloodtrail finally died out but continued to follow the cougar tracks in case he found the deer but no such luck.

Haven't had any encounters since or found any more tracks so pretty sure this cat was just passing thru. We didn't even bother reporting any of these to the DNR because in the past people who have were pretty much told they can't confirm it or try to convince them that they didn't really see what they did. I'm sure most sightings go unreported because of that.
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:20 am

Didn't realize you had (3) encounters with cats.....wow.

Still hunt the area in northern Oneida county? Any more reports you may have heard from others?
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Re: DNR's take on Cougars in WI

Unread postby Dewey » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:19 am

Hodag Hunter wrote:Didn't realize you had (3) encounters with cats.....wow.

Still hunt the area in northern Oneida county? Any more reports you may have heard from others?

I don't hunt up there nearly as much anymore, just opening day of gun season this year. I still spend time speaking with people in the area and no recent reports of sightings or tracks so I'm pretty sure the cougar were just passing thru. The sightings stopped when the deer herd took a huge nose dive. Imagine that!!!

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