Trail camera catches video of mountain lion in northern Minnesota

Cougar
Image courtesy of Voyageurs Wolf Project

Orr, Minn. — A Voyageurs Wolf Project trail camera on Oct. 20 captured video footage of a healthy mountain lion north of Black Duck Lake in St. Louis County. Researchers posted the video on the project’s Facebook page on Thursday, and Outdoor News shared it this morning.

Tom Gable, Voyageurs Wolf project leader, said the video marked the first time the 8-year-old project has captured any images of the big predators.

In the effort’s early years, researchers started with about 30 cameras, but they now average between 100 and 200 cameras. Those are spread over a 2,000 square-kilometer (770-square-mile) study area, which includes Voyageurs National Park and a substantial zone south of the border-country wilderness.

“We have other cameras in the vicinity, but this is the only photo we have gotten of a cougar,” Gable said. “This is probably a young male cat moving through, and I’d be surprised if we see him again.”

Gable said he’d heard that two other trail cameras in his area (unaffiliated with his project) had captured images of what looked like a cougar a few days prior to Oct. 20.

Gable acknowledged that the cat looked strong, even intimidating – a departure from the more common northwoods inhabitants of wolves, bobcats, and black bears.

“He’s certainly beefy and muscular. A good-looking cat,” Gable said. “Up until 150 years ago, they were found up here, even though he looks out of place now.”

The Voyageurs Wolf Project is a University of Minnesota research project that aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of wolves in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem in northern Minnesota. The project’s researchers frequently post videos and images from their trail cameras, including the cougar video, via its Facebook page.

Jessica Holmes, DNR wildlife manager from Tower said she had heard about the video but not yet seen it as of Friday afternoon. The sighting did not surprise her as the Tower Wildlife office work area has had several mountain lion trail camera reports throughout 2022.

Her office had not visited any of those sites to confirm the presence of the big cats. The Tower office work area encompasses 3 million acres of mostly north-country Minnesota forests from “Cotton to Canada and into Lake County,” Holmes said.

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