Wisconsin DNR confirms West Bend trail camera picture is a cougar

NOW: Wisconsin DNR confirms West Bend trail camera picture is a cougar

WEST BEND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has received a handful of cougar sightings over the last couple of months. Most recently, one was caught on a trail camera in West Bend. 

"They reported to the local DNR biologist, and they confirmed the photograph and the species," said Randy Johnson, the DNR's large carnivore expert. "We're working to conduct a site visit just to confirm the location is accurate." 

Johnson says on average, they receive about 15 confirmed cougar sightings in Wisconsin every year. That number has gone up over the years because of the use of trail cameras. 

"The deer gun season is about to pick up. There's a lot of people in the woods and there's a lot of cameras in the woods, and they're being checked regularly. So I think it's safe to assume we'll probably continue to get pictures of this cat as it continues to move along." 

Johnson says the sightings that have been reported are likely all the same cat. 

"There's no breeding population in the state, but we do get these occasional transient individuals that are coming from populations in the western states," said Johnson. "It's extremely, extremely rare." 

Hunters say it's even less likely to see one in person. 

"Pretty uncommon...because if they hear you they'll leave before you get to the site," said Nick Vanroo, a hunter who lives in Hartford. 

Johnson says to avoid seeing one in person, hunters should make their presence known and stay in groups. 

And although the chances are low, if you do come in contact with one, he says back off slowly and present yourself as a human.

If you think you see cougar tracks, the Wisconsin DNR encourages people to report possibly sightings through its website.

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