A wild cougar was photographed in Buffalo County in western Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources confirmed Wednesday.
An outdoorsman using a trail camera snapped the photo, and a DNR wildlife biologist confirmed the background vegetation in the photo matched the site. The biologist also found cougar tracks on a small patch of sand in the area.
Buffalo County, south of Eau Claire, is known as a rich area for deer hunting.
“There are probably more trail cameras in Buffalo County, per capita, than in any other county in the state. I wouldn’t be surprised if (the cougar) shows up on camera again,” said the biologist, Kris Johansen.
The cougar was photographed after dark Saturday in northern Buffalo County, between Gilmanton and Mondovi. DNR personnel are searching for additional prints or biological samples, but haven’t found any more as of Wednesday.
The sighting of the cougar in Buffalo County is the second in Wisconsin this year, with the previous one in Crandon on March 26.
“Cougars are a protected species in Wisconsin and cannot be shot unless attacking a human or a domestic animal. Cougar attacks on humans are exceedingly rare. They are rarely seen even in western states, where they exist in high numbers,” the DNR says.
One cougar, dubbed the “St. Croix Cougar,” went from Minnesota and into Wisconsin in the winter of 2009-10, and wound up being killed by a vehicle in Connecticut in 2011. That cougar traveled anywhere from 1,055 to 1,600 miles, biologists estimate.