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It's official: Animal is a cougar

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
February 6, 2008
— 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 didnít 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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