MINNEAPOLIS — The Lowry Hill neighborhood in Minneapolis is abuzz thanks to an overnight visitor. A home surveillance camera spotted a wild cat, believed to be a cougar, roaming through a Minneapolis neighborhood Monday.
"Turkeys, deer, bunnies, all of those things, yeah. Never seen a cougar before," resident Robyn Bruggeman said.
The animal was captured on a home security camera early Monday morning. It could be seen walking past two garages in the Lowry Hill neighborhood.
In the video, garage lights turn on and the big cat appears.
"He's been making the rounds," Lowry Hill resident Kristi (who did not want to use her last name) said.
Fresh snow overnight Tuesday proved the cat decided to stay a while and neighbors tried tracking the animal's trail.
"Apparently last night he made the rounds, over at the park and through different backyards. Up and down on sidewalks and driveways," Kristi said. "It has been the talk of the neighborhood."
Cougars are rarely seen in the state but occasionally do appear, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Since 2004, there have been 77 verified cougar sightings.
"It's really rare," DNR Large Carnivore Specialist Dan Stark said. "To have it in a densely human-populated area like that, you know, it's just not something you'd expect."
Stark guesses the cougar traveled from the Western Dakotas or Northwestern Nebraska, as there isn't an established population of the animal in Minnesota.
"It's interesting. You know, I'm as curious as a lot of people. I wanna know more about it, but we do have pretty limited information about it," Stark said. "And we only get these like snapshots."
It's a snapshot neighbors in Lowry Hill won't soon forget.
"It's really pretty animal," Kristi said. "Obviously somehow got lost in this big city."
Now, the City of Minneapolis thinks the cougar is traveling on popular trails near Lake of the Isles.
Minneapolis Animal Control says people should be cautious if they see the cougar.
"Parents of small children should pay increased attention when outside. Pet owners with small dogs or cats should supervise their animals when they are outdoors, said Control Director Caroline Hairfield.
If you encounter a cougar, you're advised to "make yourself appear larger and speak loudly and firmly" to scare them off, the DNR said. Do not shoot the animal, as they are a protected species.
Minneapolis Animal Control also says that you should not run away from a cougar — or any other animals like bears, coyotes and wolves — because that will "provoke predatory chasing behaviors."
They also say not to directly face the cougar, but stare at their feet and not eyes. That behavior will not make you appear aggressive.
The DNR says anyone who sees the animal should report the encounter to a conservation officer or local law enforcement officials so evidence can be documented.
You can also call the DNR directly at 651-296-6157.
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