Does Rice County Have A Mountain Lion?
****Updated 9:51 a.m.*****
Social media was abuzz the last few days after a posting to the Facebook page Concerned Citizens of Faribault "Because we care for and love this town" about a person seeing "something run across" their "driveway into the woods". The poster knew that it wasn't a deer nor a coyote. Chupacabra? Never say never. The person who posted asked about whether mountain lions have ever been in the area before. I decided to look into it. Here is what I found out.
Not soon after the original post went up about someone possibly seeing a mountain lion another person shared these photos they took of the wildlife management area near Walcott Township. It's hard to make out any tracks other than what appear to be deer tracks in the photos.
"Although some cougar sightings in Minnesota are accurately identified, many observations from trail cameras and tracks turn out to be cases of mistaken identity. Bobcats, house cats, coyotes, wolves, fishers and light colored dogs have all been mistaken as cougars." - Minnesota DNR Website on Mountain Lions
You can see a map of sightings of cougars here, note that the map hasn't been updated since December of 2018, which if you remember in the news a cougar was hit and killed in Northern Minnesota a day later.
I reached out to the person who posted to the Facebook page. I'll update this post when I hear back from them.
**** Update ****
I just got off the phone with conservation officer Tyler Lusignan with the Minnesota DNR. He told me he wouldn't doubt that the person saw a mountain lion. Lusignan grew up in Shakopee and he remembers people telling him stories of mountain lions being spotted in Southern Minnesota. Lusignan also stated on the phone call that if you do come across the animal, to stay away from it and to notify the DNR with where and when you saw the animal.