April 3, 2009

Cougar on the lam in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking for the public's help in finding a cougar that vanished before workers could get a radio collar on it.

The animal, last seen in early March, was the second cougar to be found in the state in 14 months.

The cougar appeared in good health and we wanted to keep him that way, said Ken Jonas, a biologist with the department. After several days of tracking him field conditions had deteriorated to the point that we were unable to locate him again.

The major problem is that the snow melted, making tracking the cougar much more difficult. Anyone who spots what appear to be cougar tracks -- Jonas says they are easy to confuse with the front paws of a bear -- should cover them and call the department.

Biologists would especially like to know how the cougar is dealing with roads, farms and built-up areas.

This cougar was spotted in Washburn County in northwest Wisconsin and may have entered the state from Canada or South Dakota, where the wild population of the big cats is growing. The cougar discovered last year was in Rock County on the state's southern border and made its way to the Chicago suburbs where it was shot by police.