Mountain lion found dead in northern Minnesota

(Facebook/Jesse Koskiniemi)

Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer Randy Posner has responded to occasional reports of mountain lion sightings through the years, but none that were substantiated, he said.

Until now.

A male mountain lion was found dead near Nimrod in northern Minnesota after being hit by a motor vehicle late last week. According to Erik Thorson, DNR area wildlife supervisor in Park Rapids, the animal was hit Thursday, Dec. 6 at about 9 p.m. just southeast of Nimrod in Cass County. According to the DNR, it was the third verified cougar observation in Minnesota this year.

Posner, in his first year in the nearby Staples office after 18 years in Brainerd, was on the scene Friday morning, along with Brainerd area wildlife staff. According to Christine Reisz, DNR Brainerd area wildlife supervisor, her staff picked up the cat Friday, and it was transferred to the Brainerd wildlife office that day. Reisz said the carcass was to be transported to Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Dec. 11 – for a “Necropsy, DNR sample, age, etc., and to also verify sex and weight,” Thorson said. Complete results may not be known for weeks or even months, according to Cheri Zeppelin, an information officer for the DNR.

It’s unknown where the mountain lion came from – the closest established population is in the Black Hills of far-western South Dakota, and Minnesota isn’t believed to have a breeding population of mountain lions, also known as cougars. But Jesse Koskiniemi, of Nimrod, who posted photos of the cat on his Facebook page, said “They (mountain lions) have been here (in the Nimrod area) for 40 years, and the neighbors have trail-cam footage (of mountain lions). This is a good area of them.”

“Between them (mountain lions) and the wolves, they’ve really taken a toll on our deer over the years.”

Koskiniemi said the dead cat was in his neighbor’s yard, about 8 miles east of Nimrod. He added that the neighbor put the cat on a scale and it weighed 142 pounds – adult male mountain lions on average weigh 137 pounds, according to the DNR website. Koskiniemi wasn’t sure if a neighbor hit it or how exactly it met its demise.

“It was pretty awesome,” Koskiniemi said of the animal. “It’s not every day you get to see one that close.”

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