Cougar seen in southern metro area

Editor

Savage, Minn. Eyewitnesses and close-up photos confirmed the
presence of a mountain lion in the Minnesota River bottoms of
Savage earlier this month. The large cat killed at least two
white-tailed deer in the bottomland country behind the Cargill
grain facility, then it disappeared after several employees of the
company began monitoring its presence.

Kerry Kammann, of Plymouth, has worked at Cargill’s grain
elevator facility as a utilityman for 30 years. When he heard about
the first sighting of the mountain lion, also called cougars, on
April 8 from a co-worker, he purchased a motion-sensitive camera to
try and photograph the animal.

“We found a deer carcass that it had been feeding on, and I got
a wild hair to buy one of those cameras,” he said. “We put it on a
tree near the carcass.”

Over the next three nights, the camera snapped a half-dozen
photos of the cat. Kammann moved and reset the camera on April 11,
and there has been no sign of the creature since April 13.

The photos leave no doubt that a large, healthy-looking mountain
lion was feasting on Minnesota venison for a short time this
spring. Kammann discovered a second whitetail carcass and said both
show severe wounds around the head and neck typical of a mountain
lion kill. Kammann, an avid outdoorsman, wasn’t surprised that if a
mountain lion were to appear in the metro area, it would happen in
river country.

“That’s wild country with a lot of wild stuff running around
down there,” he said. “He’s got quite a buffet going.”

The time on the photos occurred as much as 15 minutes apart,
suggesting that the cat didn’t approve of the flash. The camera was
capable of snapping a picture per minute, and the photos show the
animal between 10 and 12 feet away.

Former DNR biologist Bill Berg has monitored mountain lion
reports in Minnesota for three decades. Now retired and living
north of Grand Rapids, Berg repeated what he’s said many times over
the years about the nature of such sightings. While many mountain
lion reports are semi-tame animals that have been released, the
possibility of it being a wild cat is not out of the question.

The fact that the animal in Savage seemed very spooked by the
camera flash and moved on quickly when people became aware of its
presence might suggest it was a wild specimen.

“With wild cougars, we’ve always thought that they’re
continually on the move and rarely set up a stable home-range,” he
said.

Even if the cat has moved on, Kammann called the encounter a
“great experience.”

“I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it was to open that pack
of prints at Universal Color and see those shots,” he said.

Berg also noted that cougars rarely pose a threat to humans.
Deer are less safe, he noted.

“It’s not a problem for these things to kill deer,” he said.
“We’ve even had reports of semi-domestic, declawed cats getting
loose killing deer.”

Paul Renar, DNR Wildlife assistant area manager in Jordan, said
on Tuesday that the office had heard a report of the Savage cat,
but he wasn’t aware of any DNR efforts to confirm it.

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