In Wisconsin, mountain lions, also known as cougars, have been extirpated from the state since the early 1900’s. The last native mountain lion was believed to have been killed in 1908. As populations in the western United States recovered, however, dispersing individuals occasionally began to journey eastwards in search of a territory or mate. From time to time, dispersers are confirmed outside of their current established range in Midwestern and eastern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Connecticut.
While no breeding populations of mountain lions currently exist in Wisconsin, the number of dispersing individuals confirmed in the state has been on the rise since the early 2000’s. In response to the number of recent confirmations, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has released their draft Cougar Response Guidelines for public comment. The Guidelines will be used to outline how wildlife officials should respond in the event that a mountain lion sighting or incident occurs.
Public comment on the draft must be submitted to Scott Walter, the WDNR’s large carnivore specialist, no later than November 6, 2018.
In Wisconsin, mountain lions are classified as a protected species. As such, it is illegal to kill a lion unless it is attacking or killing a domestic animal, or if it poses a threat to human safety.