wisconsin tests positive for cougars|shearluck|lewisoll@yahoo.co.uk|06/20/08 at 16:44:05|shearluck|xx|0||TESTS CONFIRM CAT WAS A COUGAR

Ron Seely

283 words

6 February 2008

The Capital Times & Wisconsin State Journal




2008 The Capital Times & Wisconsin State Journal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All Rights Reserved.

Blood tests confirmed that an animal spotted inside a dilapidated barn near Milton in Rock County in late January was a cougar, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

But Adrian Wydeven, the DNR's mammal ecologist, said further testing is necessary to determine whether the cougar was a wild animal or a released or escaped pet. Tests are being conducted on a spot of blood taken from inside one of the cougar's tracks, which were larger than a man's hand.

Genetic testing will tell wildlife specialists whether the big cat is a South American cougar, which would mean it is probably an escaped pet, or a North American cougar. If it is the latter, according to Wydeven, it is more likely the cougar is wild, perhaps dispersed from a population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

If tests show the cougar is wild, it would be the first confirmed sighting of a wild cougar in Wisconsin in 100 years.

Kevin Edwardson, a trapper, followed the cougar's tracks into a run-down barn in the country outside Milton. When he entered the hayloft, the cougar, just 15 feet away, jumped from the loft through broken siding and hit the ground running.

Two large wildlife areas in the area may be providing shelter for the cougar.

Caption: State Journal archives Footprints left by a cougar near Milton in late January showed the animal has a running stride of 12 feet. Genetic testing on a spot of blood found in one of the prints confirmed it is a cougar, but it's not known if it is wild or an escaped pet.

|| Re: wisconsin tests positive for cougars|shearluck|lewisoll@yahoo.co.uk|06/20/08 at 16:44:26|shearluck|xx|0||Feb. 6--MILTON -- A drop of blood collected from a big cat living in the Milton area has confirmed that the animal is a cougar.

It is the first confirmed cougar in Wisconsin since 1908. Area residents have been reporting glimpses of a big cat for months.

Now, the Department of Natural Resources is waiting for results of more tests that might tell the sex of the animal and its subspecies, said Doug Fendry, a DNR biologist.

Fendry said DNR staff expected that a urine sample they collected at the same time as the blood would give them the most information.

But it was the tiny drop of blood that they popped frozen out of the snow as an afterthought that has yielded the information.

Fendry said DNR workers didn't even have a plastic bag for the sample, so Boyd Richter, conservation warden, balanced the frozen pellet on top of the bag that carried the urine.

He cradled the drop of blood over a quarter-mile walk through brush, over two fences and in below-zero temperatures, Fendry said. If it had slipped off, it would have disappeared into the fluffy snow.

Further testing may discover whether the cougar is South American or North American. If it is South American, it is definitely an escaped captive, Fendry said. If it is North American, it could be a wild traveling cougar, or it could still be an escaped captive.

The fact that all of that information can come from a tiny drop of blood has amazed them all, Fendry said.


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