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Cougar sighting reported in Prescott

A screen shot of the video that is located at https://www.facebook.com/amy.weiland/posts/10210648517596953?hc_location=ufi.

A possible cougar sighting a few blocks from Prescott Middle School was reported last week and video of the animal is making the rounds on social media.

Prescott resident Mike Weiland showed police video footage of what appears to be a cougar walking along Locust Street at about 11:40 p.m. Monday, July 25.

See the video on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/amy.weiland/posts/10210648517596953?hc_location=ufi.

Prescott police administrative assistant Erin Most said the animal never would have been spotted but for the trail camera. The DNR’s stance is to leave nature alone, she said.

According to posts by the Weilands on Facebook, they believe the animal was a cougar.

“Just to give a size point of reference, it is walking along our ‘off street parking’ that is the sidewalk with grass growing between...and the reflection just under the leaves on the tree on the left side of the frame is my hubby's tail lights on his Chevy equinox... This is NOT a kitty cat!” a post being shared by Amy Weiland describing the video states.

The Prescott police acknowledged the possibility of the animal being a cougar on their Facebook page Wednesday, Aug. 3, but said they felt no need to announce the sighting.

“About a week ago, we responded to a possible sighting of a cougar a few blocks from the middle school, on Locust St. Our officer was shown footage from a trail camera of this animal. Please remember that we are a river town, and Cougars travel among the terrain provided along our town. We have received no nuisance, damage or kill complaints relating to this animal (that typically goes after larger prey).

“This animal, even if it is in fact a cougar, is part of nature and we have no reason to intervene with its travel path. We do not believe there is a danger to anyone at this point. We appreciate and welcome concerns, but felt no need to put any sort of advisory out, these animals have been living among us for some time. Given the Prescott Police are not animal control officers, or trained in the tracking/catching of these sorts of wild animals. We would refer questions or concerns to the Wisconsin DNR. If immediate concerns or emergencies arise, please call Pierce County Dispatch/911.”

Information on Wisconsin’s DNR website said cougars are reclusive animals that rarely make noise or reveal their presence.

“According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, 13 people have been killed in mountain lion attacks in North America in the past 100 years. That compares with 1,300 deaths by rattlesnakes and 4,000 by bees,” the website states.

Sightings are rare, but if a cougar approaches, people are advised to stand tall, wave their arms, throw stones or other objects and yell. Do not run and slowly back away, keeping your eyes on the animal at all times.

The DNR lists these identifying characteristics of cougars:

  • Adult weight: 116-160 pounds (male) and 75-110 pounds (female)

  • Length: 80-95 inches (male) and 72-80 inches (female)

  • Tail length: 28-38 inches and ropelike with a black tip

  • Shoulder height: 27-31 inches

Adult coloration
  • Coat overall is tawny but can vary from reddish, yellow to gray

  • Belly, underside, inside legs and chin are white or creamy

  • Black-tipped tail

  • Some black on the front of the muzzle, below the nose

  • Back of the ears are solid black or gray

Visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/cougar.htm to report cougar sightings in Wisconsin or learn more about the animals.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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