DNR Responds to Cougar Sightings In and Around Duluth

By KBJR News 1

November 3, 2011 Updated Nov 3, 2011 at 11:03 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - This week multiple big cat sightings were reported around the Duluth area, including one where an eight-year-old girl says she met a cougar while heading to the bus.
Thursday, we checked in with the DNR to see what they have to say about those reports.

Cloquet DNR area wildlife manager Rich Staffon says these reports could be true.

Staffon said it would not be uncommon for a cougar to be in the area.

He believes the cougar sightings, which were from Rice Lake Township and Lester River, could be a migrant cougar, which is just passing through.

One of those sightings involved a young girl who says Tuesday morning, a cougar growled at her and then ran off in Rice Lake Township while she was walking down the driveway to her school bus stop.

Thursday, the DNR met with the family to see if they could find any evidence to verify the animal was a cougar through tracks, droppings or hairs.

"In fact throughout Minnesota we've only been able to verify probably less than a dozen mountain lion sightings, most of them with trail cameras, probably the best evidence. We've had one or two that have been hit by cars and found that way," said Staffon.

The wildlife manager says cougars do have a large territory and even if the animal is staying in the area, it would cover several square miles.

Staffon said people should be aware a cougar may be in the area and report any sightings, but he doesn't know of any cougar attacks in Minnesota.

Neighbors had also heard shrieking noises in Rice Lake Township at night.

The wildlife manager says those could be a cougar, but could also be a fox, owl or bobcat.

He said cougars typically have a lower pitched growl, not a shriek-like growl.

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