It sounds like MidWestern states will need to create policies regarding cougars and confront a new reality in which the big cats will return.
The voyage may sound improbable, but wildlife officials say that a DNA test should reveal whether a cougar killed Monday in Chicago took a 1,000-mile trip from the Black Hills of South Dakota through Wisconsin before being shot by police in the Roscoe Village neighborhood.
Clay Nielsen, wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and director of scientific research with The Cougar Network, said that more cougars are wandering out of high cougar population areas like South Dakota into Midwestern areas that have not seen them for hundreds of years.
When I was a kid, it seemed the TV news shows would broadcast a story about the elusive Michigan panther once every few months. It has such legendary status that the local USFL (football) franchise was named the Michigan Panthers in the early 1980s.
If you wade through links in search engines regarding the USFL team, you’ll get gems that provide conspiracy theories about why Michigan DNR refuses to investigate or acknowledge Michigan’s panther population. The DNR responds on its web site.
The true test will come when, and if, a female cougar makes the trek and establishes a line further from the current breeding community in the Dakotas.