Dead cougar marks 7th confirmed sighting in 14 months

A dead cougar turned up over the weekend in Pope County, according to a report on Alexandria television KSAX. The station had also reported recently on a cougar sighting nearby that state Department of Natural Resources officials dismissed as a large house cat.

Now the station is posting pretty convincing photos of a large, male, and very dead cougar laying in grass next to a coffee cup.

I’m assuming the cup is intended to demonstrate the cat’s relative size, and has nothing to do with the animal’s death. I mean, I’ve had some strong coffee before, but …

I just reported on Minnesota Public Radio of an increasing number of mountain lion sightings in Minnesota over the last two years.

Glenwood, Minn., Area Wildlife Supervisor Kevin Kotts was not available Monday.

I spoke at some length with a former DNR biologist who now studies things like cougars and Canada lynx on a contract basis. He worries about the public perception that there’s some kind of department conspiracy going to suppress reports of cougar sightings.

Some people, apparently, believe the DNR is either covering up what it knows about cougars in Minnesota, or worse yet, that the department has actually introduced mountain lions into the state, the biologist said.

He assures me that both theories are complete bunk. The cougars are almost certainly individual young males looking for lady cats, and wandering in from the western Dakotas, where they’ve pretty much filled up the region’s capacity for cougars. There’s still no evidence mountain lions are staying, or reproducing in Minnesota.

But now, a dead cougar will almost certainly re-fire the theories.

And one final question for the class: What do you call the animals? Technically, the terms “cougar” and “mountain lion” are interchangeable terms for the same animal. It’s also called a “puma.” But the term “cougar” sounds most correct to me, while my editors prefer “mountain lion.”

Feel free to respond with your preference.

  • John A. Lutz

    Minnesota DNR is NOT the only state where wildlife officials have problems separating identification differences between ordinary housecats & a mountain lion or cougar. Such incompentencies run amok in all state DNR or wildlife agencies across east & midwest.

    Since 1965, I have conducted thousands of field investigations on cougar sightings across the east & have ammassed over 11,000 reports.

    Join us on facebook to share data already collected under group name of Eastern Puma Research Network

  • John A. Lutz
  • Vallee Rose

    This can’t go on –

  • Zebulun

    Lacking proper mountains, I think the correct regional name for this animal, even if he is just passing through the state, is cougar.

  • Brad S.

    John A. Lutz: The animal in the video that aired on KSAX on Nov. 9 is without any question a house cat. Nonetheless, you slammed the Minnesota DNR and other natural resource agencies across the Midwest and East for not knowing the difference between a cougar and a house cat. Quite obviously, in this case, it is John Lutz who cannot differentiate a cougar from a common house cat. Concerning your 11,000 puma reports, are most of those “reports” of house cats too? I would expect there are some bobcats mixed in, possibly a lot of coyotes, dogs, deer and raccoons too, eh.

    The mountain lion found less than 2 miles from where Don Seest made the video of the house cat, which Seest said was a young cougar, had been dead for more than a week. That carcass was located on Nov. 12. The dead mountain lion was situated only about 150 yards from the home of one of Seest’s friends. Somehow, that just seems to be too much of a coincidence. I cannot help wondering whether someone had placed that dead cougar there.

    Mr. Lutz, please help keep the clown act in West Virginia; I doubt that anyone here in Minnesota is interested.

  • Brad S

    John A. Lutz: I checked various sources and I am now wondering why there is NOT A SINGLE trail camera report of a cougar in West Virginia? It would seem that is because there are no mountain lions in West Virginia. How many of your 11,000 “reports” of eastern puma are from West Virginia? If some of your 11,000 “reports” are from West Virginia, then it would certainly appear at least those “reports” are erroneous. Come to think of it, if your West Virginia “reports” are erroneous, I suppose it is quite possible the rest are too. I’ve never had much confidence in those so called sightings, seems nearly all are actually errors of one type or another, just like Seest’s house cat video.

    How does John Lutz explain the obvious contradiction that exists between your so called mountain lion “reports” and the lack of any actual real evidence in West Virginia?

    In Minnesota, in recent years, we’ve had at least a few dispersing mountain lions from the western Dakotas and we also now have at least seven trail camera pictures of those dispersing cougars. In September 2009, a cougar from North Dakota was even hit by a car near Bemidji.

    Mr. Lutz, are there many Bigfoot “reports” for West Virginia?

  • Brad S

    John A. Lutz: I wondered why someone like yourself, who cannot differentiate a cougar from a common tabby cat, would have felt compelled to slam “all wildlife agencies across the East and Midwest” and at the same time present readers nothing more than a preposterous blast of hot air. You live in West Virginia, seven to eleven hundred miles from various locations in Minnesota. Based on your statements above, it is exceptionally clear that you have not a clue as to what goes on in Minnesota.

    In an attempt to understand why you would make such absurd claims, I used Google. Wow! It certainly wasn’t long before I possessed additional insight. At this link, for example,

    You stated, “For the record, I also believe in the existance (sic) of BLACK PANTHERS freely roaming the U.S. from the Pacificto (sic) the Atlantic Oceans. My knowledge on the presence of BLACK PANTHERS, whether Jaguars, pumas or the long-thought extinct American Cheetah, is based on 3 personnal (sic) experiences with such large cats, along with witnesses in Maryland, Pennsylvana (sic), New York and Florida since 1950.”

    John Lutz, “for the record,” permit me to share with you this information: There has never been a specimen of a black puma (cougar) in any museum collection, zoo, or one that has been harvested by any hunter or trapper anywhere in North or South America or anywhere else that you might imagine, at least since Columbus sailed to the new world.

    As for your “personal experience” involving an illusion of an extinct American Cheetah, let’s just say that once a species is extinct, it’s gone forever! Yet, as if by magic, apparently you CLAIM to have seen one, and a black one at that. How utterly incredible!

    Although this new insight provided some explanation, I still have questions. For example, given your frame of mind Mr. Lutz, what makes you think that criticizing resource agencies will help you? And what is the specific reason for your own apparent arrogance?

  • Brad S.

    John A. Lutz: There is an article in the Baltimore City Paper where you explained your involvement with what you referred to as “Mr. Cougar.” The article is presented at this link:

    In that article, attributed to John Lutz, is this statement, “It could have been a sasquatch or bigfoot that had been washed down the North Branch of the Patapsco River during Tropical Storm Agnes.”

    I found that statement especially revealing since it indicates that you are possibly inclined to run with any thought or assumption, which presents itself in your mind. I am sure there are others, like me, who perceive that statement (your assumption) as being extraordinarily farfetched. Therefore, Mr. Lutz, may I inquire whether your capacity to conceive farfetched ideas is, where mountain lions are concerned, the sole basis that causes you to accuse our DNR “of covering up facts?” In addition, what, might I ask, do you think DNR is denying?

    I presume you are aware that in effect you are labeling the people at DNR as liars.

    Since 1983, when your club, the so called Eastern Puma Research Network, was formed, I have not found any indication whatsoever that John Lutz, or anyone else affiliated with your club, has conducted any actual legitimate research that involved a wild cougar. What I have observed, one Google session after another, are the egregious, outlandish, and preposterous claims that you have cast toward state wildlife agencies all across the eastern United States.

    As for Minnesota, I happen to know and associate with some of Minnesota’s most experienced and knowledgeable outdoorsmen. I am not referring to the new people, I am referring to those of us who have trapped, hunted and explored Minnesota for five or six decades. In most cases, our fathers did so as well. Until very recently, collectively, none of us had ever encountered a single instance of a wild mountain lion in Minnesota. Yes, there have been a few cougars released by their owners at times, and possibly even a wild transient mountain lion on occasion, but there has never been any regular sign or wild kittens.

    Given that, Mr. Lutz, are you inclined to infer that all of us as liars too? Have you ever even paid a visit to Minnesota?