The cougars come back

Here’s a photograph that probably wouldn’t have been possible just a few decades ago. A cougar out for a midnight stroll on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the sighting, documented by two trail cameras in Foxboro, Wis., on the Minnesota border. A few days later, two more photos were captured in Bennett, Wis., miles to the east.

Same cougar? Who knows. It’s impossible to say without genetic testing.

The Minnesota DNR confirmed two photos of a cougar on the Iowa border in September.

Are cougars making a home in these parts or just passing through?

The Wisconsin DNR says the cougar — or cougars — are probably males from a breeding population in the western United States. There’s no evidence that they’re breeding in Wisconsin, it says.

Cougars were eliminated from Wisconsin in the last century, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says, but they’re protected now and this year has marked the most sightings since 2009.

Cougars can make tracks. In 2011, one that was spotted in a Twin Cities suburb, survived all the obstructions of great lakes and fast drivers, only to meet its demise on a highway in Connecticut. It was looking for love.