Department of Natural Resources biologists have confirmed a video and photo of a single cougar captured on two separate trail cameras in Clark and Marathon counties.
The Clark County video was captured in early August south of Neillsville, while the Marathon County photo was captured east of Marathon City in early September. In each case, DNR biologists conducted site visits to verify the location and origin of the photo and video footage.
Biologists have been unable to verify the location or origin of a third photo of a cougar reportedly taken in Waupaca County in early September. This photo remains unconfirmed. It is unknown whether the photos are of the same cougar, but given the timing and distance, that is a possibility.
The last confirmed cougar sighting in Wisconsin occurred in July 2015. No cougar sightings were confirmed in Wisconsin in 2016 – this marked the first year since 2008 without a confirmed sighting. Information regarding confirmed cougar sighting can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “cougar.”
Most cougar confirmations in Wisconsin resulted from reports by private citizens. Cougar sightings can be reported via an online report at keywords “mammal observation form.”
Genetic evidence suggests cougars known to have entered Wisconsin are male cougars dispersing from a breeding population in the Western United States. There is currently no evidence that cougars are breeding in Wisconsin.
Cougars are a protected species in Wisconsin and hunting is not allowed. Cougars are not considered a threat to public safety, and in the unlikely event that a person is confronted by a cougar, face the animal and spread your arms and open your coat or jacket to appear larger. If a cougar approaches, make noise and throw rocks or sticks.
Top: This trail cam photo of a cougar was captured in Marathon County Sept. 3, 2017.
Photo Credit: DNR