A cougar, dubbed the St. Croix Mountain lion — for a number of confirmed sightings in St. Croix County, Wisconsin — was hit and killed by a SUV in Milford, Connecticut on June 11, 2011. The driver was uninjured. The eastern mountain lion has been considered extirpated or extinct since the 1930’s, so a necropsy was performed to determine the cat’s genetic origin.
About six weeks after the death, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced the necropsy findings. Based on tissue DNA, the 2-5 year old mountain lion was found to belong to a species originating in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.
DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty had this to say:
“The journey of this mountain lion is a testament to the wonders of nature and the tenacity and adaptability of this species. This mountain lion traveled a distance of more than 1,500 miles from its original home in South Dakota — representing one of the longest movements ever recorded for a land mammal and nearly double the distance ever recorded for a dispersing mountain lion.”
“The confirmation of a wild mountain lion in our state was the first recorded in more than 100 years,” Commissioner Esty said. “This is the first evidence of a mountain lion making its way to Connecticut from western states and there is still no evidence indicating that there is a native population of mountain lions in Connecticut.”
It is hypothesized that over at least the last two and a half years this mountain lion made his way from South Dakota through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan then into Ontario, Canada, New York and finally Connecticut. The confirmed sightings of this specific mountain lion in Wisconsin were determined through scat, blood and hair.
Biologists say young male mountain lions will usually travel up to an average of 100 square miles in search of a mate. So, the St. Croix Mountain lion either didn’t find a female mountain lion during his expedition or was just very, very picky.
The tragedy is after his exhaustive journey from west to east, he became road kill. The Cougar Rewilding Foundation says the mountain lion trekked all that way for love. What do you think?
Photo credit by Flickr: DavidB30906
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