Rare Local Cougar Sighting Shocks Residents of Small Minneapolis Town


Dec. 5 2023, Published 2:29 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • A cougar was spotted in a Minneapolis neighborhood.
  • Cougars are rare in Minnesota and don’t make their homes there.
  • Another cougar was spotted in November in a town 30 miles southwest of Minneapolis.
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What would you do if a wild animal casually strolled through your neighborhood? Due to deforestation and loss of habitat spurred on by climate change, animals that you wouldn't typically expect to come so close to humans are being spotted in residential areas.

Cougars are usually not found east of the Mississippi, so residents of a Minneapolis suburb were shocked when they saw a big cat in their yard on Dec. 4, 2023.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed the big cat was a cougar, FOX 9 reported. But it isn’t clear where the cougar may have come from. Here are details on the cougar in Minneapolis.

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A cougar in the wild.
Source: Getty Images

A cougar was spotted in the Minneapolis neighborhood Lowry Hill.

A couple living in the Lowry Hill neighborhood near Minneapolis saw the cougar in their yard after the cat triggered their home security camera at about 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 4, FOX 9 reported. A video captured by the home security system shows the big cat jumping over a fence, then strolling past the home’s garage and a children’s playset.

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The resident whose camera caught the cougar on video told FOX 9 that her husband was “astounded” by what he saw on the video. “All of a sudden, he was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re not going to believe this. Check this out,’” the resident, only identified as Kristi, told FOX 9. “There it was clear as day, this big cat, this big cougar.”

According to the Minnesota DNR’s website, cougars are very rare in Minnesota, and those that are spotted are most likely on the move to different locations. The state doesn’t have a “resident breeding population” of cougars.

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So, where did this cat come from? Most likely North or South Dakota. The nearest population of breeding cougars is in the Black Hills of South Dakota. “The number of verified cougar observations indicate that cougar occurrence in Minnesota is a result of transient animals from the Western Dakotas,” stated the DNR website.

Cougars that show up in Minnesota, like the one in Lowry Hill, may also have been held as pets that were either released or escaped, the DNR stated.

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The Dec. 4 cougar sighting in Lowry Hill is only the second cougar sighting caught on camera in Hennepin County in almost 20 years, FOX 9 reported. As of September 2023, approximately 77 cougars have been spotted in Minnesota in the past 20 years, per the DNR. In November 2023, CBS News reported that a cougar was caught on camera in Carver, Minn., about 30 miles from Minneapolis and Lowry Hill.

Luckily, no people or pets were hurt by the cougar.

Thankfully, no people or pets were hurt by the cougar, which was probably just traveling through the neighborhood. If you should ever come face to face with a cougar, the DNR recommends making a lot of noise, “making yourself large,” and throwing things at the cougar to scare it away.

“I will definitely be more cautious when I walk out to go to the garage or when I let my dogs out,” Kristi told FOX 9.

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