From our partners at the Antigo Times:
Two photos from a trail camera surfaced on Facebook this week of a cougar spotted near Antigo. The photos, which were time-stamped December 18, were recently discovered by the landowner and reported to the DNR. The DNR also reports that cougar photographs were taken with another trail camera outside of Merrill just eight days before the Antigo photos were taken. The DNR has been to both locations to verify the photos, get more photos of the area and talk with both landowners.
From a previous article on the DNR website of a cougar reported in Douglas County, there is currently no evidence that cougars are breeding in Wisconsin. Biologists believe the cougars known to have entered Wisconsin are male cougars dispersing from a breeding population in the Western United States.
Cougars are a protected species in Wisconsin and cannot be shot unless attacking a human or a domestic animal. Cougar attacks on humans are very rare, and there have been no confirmed conflicts between cougars and people or domestic animals in Wisconsin.
Here are some identifying characteristics of cougars:
•Adult weight: 116-160 pounds (male) and 75-110 pounds (female)
•Length: 80-95 inches (male) and 72-80 inches (female)
•Tail length: 28-38 inches and ropelike with a black tip
•Shoulder height: 27-31 inches
•Coat overall is tawny but can vary from reddish, yellow to gray
•Belly, underside, inside legs and chin are white or creamy
•Some black on the front of the muzzle, below the nose
•Back of the ears are solid black or gray
•No black phases have been documented in North America, only South America
•Young have dark brown spots that last until nine months of age
•Light spotting may still be present until the cougar is two years old
•In mud or snow, 2.7-4.0 inches in length and 2.8-4.5 inches width
•Round and often wider than they are long
•No claws (although some canid tracks may not show claws or nails)
If you observe any signs of a possible cougar in your area, the DNR has a large mammal observation form on their website where you can report your observations. If you have any questions or concerns you can also contact the local DNR office at 715-627-4317. More information on these photos will be provided by the DNR at a later date.