The great cougar hoax

With some frequency there have been sightings of cougars in the upper Midwest, but the last mountain lion taken in Minnesota, according to the DNR, was in Becker County in 1897, although it acknowledges reports of sightings north of Duluth.

Today, however, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a release saying recent reports of cougar sightings in the Badger State are a hoax.


The above picture was taken last year in Franklin (near Milwaukee), but it turned out to be a Photoshopped joke that a company sent out to customers.

The story behind this next picture, however, reveals the extent that game officials will go to in investigating something like this:


Said the Wisconsin DNR:

These are probably unretouched photos, but evidence suggests they may be contrived, and most certainly weren’t taken in Wisconsin. The deer in the top picture is a mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) which is only found in the western United States. The shrubs are clearly western vegetation and the trees are most likely lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) another western species. In addition, several other things about the photos make them suspicious. The chances of getting both a deer and cougar in the same trail camera frame at the same time is extremely remote. Also the deer seems totally unaware of the cougar immediate behind it. This suggests a staged photo.

  • NormH

    There have been fairly regular cougar sightings in northern Minnesota. One animal was even video taped. This is not surprising when you consider that the cougar population in the Dakotas is expanding eastward. A mountain lion was recently shot by hunters only about 60 miles west of Breckenridge, MN.

  • nn

    cougars have also been caught on camera in MN recently… why wouldn’t they be in the area? Enormous Deer Population, large wooded areas… It is common to hear of sightings in the western and northern regions of Wisconsin where I live. There may be yahoos who put up a hoax now and then, but that doesn’t mean that cougars live here… they just found wild DNA evidence in Milwaukee in Jan of 08… what more evidence do you need?

  • ML

    There are rumors of a cougar around Milaca, MN, the DNR said no there isn’t any evidence, But why not tell the people if there are cougars in Minnesota, why should people be surprised when they see one, people should know about these things so they are prepared. A couple of horses were attacked near Milaca. People around here are not stupid, the information is from reliable people. We want to know if there are cougars in the area. We don’t want to be surprised. Some people in the area have actually seen one, while on their deer stands.

  • Cheryl Hazen

    The cougar or cougars near Milaca, MN has been seen by 5 different people in the area including the owner of the horses that were attacted. The DNR has no one trained to deal with these animals by their own admission. They are there, so beware

    in this area.


  • Jeff Kloss

    We see them (cougars) every Friday night in Eden Prairie.

    You can get 7 or 8 of them to fit in one picture frame at Redstone’s if your nice.