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A trek of more than 2,000 miles in search of romance ended in tragedy on a highway in Milford, Connecticut on June 11th.  Born in the Black Hills, he left his mother (or lost her to a hunter) when he was between one and two years old.  In any case, he had to leave because an adult male, most likely his father, was already defending his mother’s home range, and he might have been killed if he stayed.  He had nothing to guide him but his internal compass, set east.


The young “ambassador cougar” attacked no humans or horses on the way, and was rarely seen.  He must have passed through many areas of suitable habitat with deer and cover for stalking and resting.  But something was missing—a female available for mating.  He probably wasn’t specifically aware of that, but even though he may have tarried a while here and there, he eventually felt the urge to continue east.  The desire to breed is powerful; animals who aren’t motivated to take great risks don’t pass their genes on to offspring.


If he had found a potential mate not defended by a male more powerful than himself, he would have stopped and set up his own territory that included the female’s home range.  The fact that he continued all the way to the Atlantic Ocean strongly suggests that he found none .  Human settlers and pioneers had wasted them over a century before because of unjustified fear and greed and then did nothing to correct it for over a half century since Aldo Leopold recognized the void.


Although he is dead, he gives renewed hope to humans who want wildness and wild creatures to persist.  “A wild mountain lion traveling through our state is certainly an anomaly,” [Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty] said. “It is, however, a strong symbol of what we all hope for – that wilderness areas and biological diversity can be preserved and protected.  Thankfully, through the hard work and dedication of conservationists, wildlife experts and everyone who cares about our environment and natural resources our state and nation have made great progress in achieving this goal.”



CBS New York

Scientists: Cougar Traversed Continent Over 2 Years On Way To Fairfield County

And What’s More Remarkable, He Did Thousands Of Miles In Search Of Love

July 27, 2011 8:25 PM

GREENWICH, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A mountain lion killed in Connecticut last month is now confirmed to have crossed half a continent before arriving in upscale Fairfield County.

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The need to preserve as much wild land as possible.


Huffpost Green

David Mizejewski, Naturalist, National Wildlife Federation; Blogger, Animal Planet

Wild Cougar Confirmed in Connecticut


This week’s Animal Oddity is going to settle a long-running debate between biologists, state wildlife managers, and a lot of people who believe they have spotted an animal that isn’t supposed to be where they say they saw it.

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Adrian Wydeven of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: his death was inevitable.


Journal Sentinel – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Cougar tracked across Wisconsin killed on Connecticut highway

By Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel

A cougar that roamed Wisconsin in 2009 is the same cat that was killed by a motorist driving an SUV on a busy highway in Milford, Conn., on June 11, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.


July 26, 2011

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A perspective from the Adirondacks.  Cougar Rewilding’s Vice President, John Laundre, estimates that the Adirondack Park could sustain a population of 190 to 390 cougars.




Adirondack  Dispatches – News and Views from the Adirondack Explorer

Cougar came from South Dakota

July 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm by Phil Brown

The news that a mountain lion killed in Connecticut had migrated some 1,500 miles from the Black Hills of South Dakota will no doubt fuel the never-ending debate over whether cougars live in the Adirondacks.

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This report provides more informaton about the DNA analysis and the exact match with the Champlin Cougar.  A video at the site shows the cat feeding on a deer in Dunn County, Wisconsin in January 2010.  It also has a map of his route through Wisconsin.


Pioneer Press

St. Croix Cougar’s 1,000-mile prowl astonishes scientists

By Dave Orrick

A mountain lion killed last month on a busy Connecticut highway outside of New York City was not, as officials initially had concluded, a captive animal that had escaped.



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On All Things Considered, Robert Siegel talked with Kristy Pilgrim, laboratory supervisor for the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Montana, which carried out the DNA testing and analysis that determined the cat’s origin. You can listen to the audio via the player at the website.


In the 3:46 minute interview, Pilgrim tells us that the lab has a collection of DNA samples from more than 800 cougars in the West.  First, they found that the Champlin-Milford cougar’s DNA most closely matched South Dakota’s.  Then they looked at DNA derived from hair & scat samples collected in the Midwest.  They were amazed to find the DNA exactly matched some of the samples collected in Wisconsin in early 2010.


The only other long dispersal that the lab analyzed was the cougar killed in Chicago in April 2008.  He also probably was born in the Black Hills.

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Adrian Wydeven:  cougar probably was looking for companionship.


Wisconsin Radio Network

Cougar dies after traveling great distance

by Jackie Johnson on July 27, 2011

A cougar confirmed to have visited Wisconsin last year is dead.

What’s most surprising to wildlife officials is the distance the animal traveled, so says wildlife biologist Adrian Wydeven of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The cougar was killed by a motor vehicle six weeks ago in Connecticut — that’s 1055 miles away from its first recorded sighting in Champlin, Minnesota on December 5th, 2009. “Yeah, this represents probably new records of movement for a cougar.


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