Washington County cougar sighting confirmed

Cougars occasionally pass through Wisconsin, likely from South Dakota's Black Hills population.

Colgate, Wis. — The Wisconsin DNR has confirmed a cougar sighting Feb. 7 near Colgate in Washington County.

The big cat was caught on video from a security camera as it crossed a walkway of a residence near Amy Belle Elementary School at 1 a.m.

The sidewalk square the cougar walked across measured 48 inches. “The cougar covers it with room to spare,” DNR wildlife biologist Dianne Robinson said in an email.

The landowner gave the DNR permission to post the video on the DNR website as long as their name and address are not listed.

Sawyer Briel, DNR policy and communications director, said it is probably the same cougar that was recently identified in Fond du Lac County on Jan. 8. Briel said it is likely the cougar is passing through the area and it has probably moved on.

Cougar pictures were confirmed from Lincoln and Langlade counties in December, but without genetic samples, it is impossible to determine if those photos were of the same animal spotted in Washington County.

The nearest established cougar population is in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Cougars dispersing through Wisconsin are believed to be from that population.

Anyone observing a possible cougar should contact their local DNR office and they are encouraged to fill out the Large Mammal Observation Form on the DNR website. Type “cougar” in the search section of the main page of the website.

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