Cougars in Wisconsin

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Sightings

Background

DNR biologists investigate cougar reports, and a determination is made based on the evidence provided. This map shows sightings reported to DNR that could be confirmed as verified or probable and shared with permission. These reports primarily consist of field camera photos or cougar signs, with the evidence and the location verified by biologists. Each observation does not necessarily represent a different cougar. Many likely repeat observations of the same individual cougar as it moves across the landscape. It is expected other probable reports exist, but not all observations are not reported to DNR for verification.

Map of cougar sightings. Click to enlarge the map.

Wild cougars probably disappeared from the state by about 1910, but reports again began to surface in the 1940s. These were perhaps escaped captive cougars or misidentifications. Since 1991, the DNR has conducted a standardized system of collecting reports of cougars and other rare mammals.

While there have been several verified sightings of cougars in Wisconsin recently, there is currently no evidence that they are breeding here. Biologists believe any confirmed sightings are transient male cougars dispersing from a breeding population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

2023 Observations

On Aug. 19, 2023, a cougar was captured on a trail camera near Wausaukee in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings in Marinette County listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 16th verified cougar report of 2023.

On Aug. 15, 2023, a cougar was captured on a trail camera near Pound in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings in Marinette County listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 15th verified cougar report of 2023.

On Aug. 13, 2023 a cougar was seen on a security camera near Lake Tomahawk in Oneida County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This is the 14th verified cougar report of 2023.

On Aug. 9, 2023, a cougar was seen on a trail camera near Pine Lake in Oneida County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This is the 13th verified cougar report of 2023.

On July 27, 2023, a cougar was seen on a trail camera near Minong in Washburn County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. Note the date on the photo are incorrect. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 12th verified cougar report of 2023.

On July 23, 2023, a cougar was seen on a trail camera near Bass Lake in Washburn County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings listed below in Sawyer County, but it is not known for sure. This is the 11th verified cougar report of 2023.

On July 22, 2023, a cougar was seen in a backyard near Wagner in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 10th verified cougar report of 2023.

On July 17, 2023, a cougar was seen on a trail camera near Spider Lake in Sawyer County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This is the 11th verified cougar report of 2023.

On June 29, 2023, a cougar was captured on a security camera near Mountain in Oconto County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 9th verified cougar report of 2023.

On June 19, 2023, a cougar was captured on two trail cameras about 1/4th mile apart NW of Wausaukee in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified these sightings. This individual is likely the same animal captured twice and may be the same animal confirmed in the previous sightings listed below in Marinette County, but it is not known for sure. This is the 7th and 8th verified cougar reports of 2023.

On June 17, 2023, a cougar was captured on a trail camera near Florence in Florence County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This is the 6th verified cougar report of 2023.

On June 14, 2023, a cougar was captured on a trail camera near Dunbar in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 5th verified cougar report of 2023.

On May 7, 2023, a cougar was captured on a trail camera north of Crivitz in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 4th verified cougar report of 2023.

On Feb. 10, 2023, cougar tracks were discovered near Wausaukee in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sightings listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 3rd verified cougar report of 2023.

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On Feb. 3, 2023, a cougar was captured near Pembine, WI, in Marinette County on a trail camera. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This is the 2nd verified cougar report of 2023. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure.

On Feb. 1, 2023, a cougar was captured on a trail camera in Dunbar, WI, in Marinette County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This is the 1st verified cougar report of 2023 and follows a series of confirmed reports in northeast Wisconsin dating back to late 2022.

2022 Observations

On Dec. 27, 2022, bobcat hunters treed a cougar in Langlade County Forest Lands in NE Langlade County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 15th verified cougar report of 2022.

There were a few other reports of cougar sightings during 2022 that had credible evidence to support the sightings. However, these sightings could not be verified due to various circumstances and are omitted below.

On Dec. 18, 2022, bobcat hunters treed a cougar south of Rhinelander in Lincoln County. DNR staff located a cache site and took several biological samples. These samples will be genetically analyzed. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 14th verified cougar report of 2022.

On Dec. 5, 2022, a cougar was captured on a trail camera near Florence, WI, in Florence County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 13th verified cougar report of 2022.

On Nov. 17, 2022, a cougar was captured near Conover, WI, in Vilas County on a trail camera. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure. This is the 12th verified cougar report of 2022.

On Nov. 11, 2022, a cougar was captured running down a forest road near Conover, WI, in Vilas County. A local biologist later verified this sighting. This is the 11th verified cougar report of 2022.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera in the early morning of Sept. 9, 2022, near Cassville, WI, in Grant County and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 10th verified cougar report of 2022. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera in the early morning of Sept. 1, 2022, near Lynxville, WI, in Crawford County, and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 9th verified cougar report of 2022. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on the late evening of Aug. 28, 2022, near Gays Mills, WI, in Crawford County, and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 8th verified cougar report of 2022. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on the late evening of Aug. 10, 2022, northwest of Prairie du Sac, WI, in Sauk County, and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 7th verified cougar report of 2022. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera in the early morning of Jul. 29, 2022, near Boaz, WI, in Richland County, and was later verified by a local biologist through rigorous scale and measurement assessments. This is the 6th verified cougar report of 2022. This individual may be confirmed in the previous sighting listed below as the photos were captured ~3 hrs and about 3.5 miles apart, but it is unknown.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera in the early morning of Jul. 29, 2022, near Boaz, WI, in Richland County, and was later verified by a local biologist through rigorous scale and measurement assessments. This is the 5th verified cougar report of 2022. This individual may be the same confirmed in the previous sighting listed below, as the sightings are ~10 miles and about 2.5 days apart, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on the evening of Jul. 26, 2022, near Marshall, WI, in Richland County, and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 4th verified cougar report of 2022.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera in the early morning of Jul. 25, 2022, near Hub City, WI, in Richland County, and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 3rd verified cougar report of 2022.

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A cougar was captured on a trail camera around Jun. 21, 2022, near Rolling, WI, in Langlade County and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 2nd verified cougar report of 2022.

In Price County, WI, a cougar was captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera around Jun. 1, 2022. This photo is of particular interest as it suggests this is a male cat, indicated by the dark spot on the underside of the rear end near the base of the tail. This is the 1st verified cougar report of 2022.

2021 Observations

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on the evening of Dec. 2, 2021, in Shawano County, near Belle Plaine, and was later verified by a local biologist through rigorous scale and measurement assessments. This is the 18th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and Nov. 27, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on the evening of Nov. 25, 2021, in Outagamie County, west of Green Bay and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 16th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and Nov. 22, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on the evening of Nov. 22, 2021, in Brown County, SE of Green Bay and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 15th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and Nov. 15, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on the evening of Nov. 15, 2021, in Manitowoc County SW of Manitowoc and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 14th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and the early morning of Nov. 15, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera in the early morning of Nov. 15, 2021, in Sheboygan County near Sheboygan and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 13th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and Nov. 7, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on November 7, 2021, in Washington County near West Bend and later verified by a local biologist. This is the 12th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and Nov. 3, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera in Fond du Lac County on Nov. 3, 2021, and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 11th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and 28, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on Oct. 28, 2021, in Winnebago County and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 10th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in previous counties listed below between Oct. 10 and 22, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on Oct. 22, 2021, in SW Waupaca County and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 9th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in Lincoln, Marathon, and Wood counties on Oct. 3, 10, and 18, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on Oct. 18, 2021, in eastern Wood County near the Portage County line and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 8th verified cougar report of 2021. This individual may be the same confirmed in Lincoln and Marathon counties on Oct. 3 and 10, but it is not known for sure.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on Oct. 10, 2021, in central Marathon County near the city of Marathon and was later verified by a local biologist. This is the 7th verified cougar report of 2021.

A cougar was captured on a trail camera on Oct. 3, 2021, in Lincoln County near Gleason and was later verified by a DNR biologist. This is the 6th verified cougar report of 2021.

A trail camera captured two photos of a cougar on Apr. 14, 2021, near Wittenberg in Shawano County and was later verified by DNR staff. This is the 5th verified cougar report of 2021.

A set of cougar tracks was found on Mar. 6, 202, near Washburn in Bayfield County and was later verified by DNR staff. This is the 4th verified cougar report of 2021.

A set of cougar tracks was found on Mar. 6, 2021, near Crivitz in Marinette County and was later verified by biologists. This is the 3rd verified cougar report of 2021.

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A trail camera captured a video of a cougar on Feb. 1, 2021, west of Park Falls in Price County. A DNR biologist later verified the site and video. This is the 2nd verified cougar report of 2021.

A set of cougar tracks was found on Jan. 24, 2021, in northwest Sawyer County and were later verified by biologists. This is the 1st verified cougar report of 2021 and follows a series of confirmed reports in northwest Wisconsin dating back to late 2020.

2020 Observations

A set of tracks were found on Dec. 28, 2020, near Cable in Bayfield County. A local biologist later confirmed the tracks. This makes the fifteenth confirmed cougar observation in 2020.

A mountain lion was treed on Dec. 26, 2020, near Seely in Bayfield County. Local biologists later confirmed the siting based on photos taken at the scene. This is the fourteenth confirmed cougar observation in 2020.

A trail camera captured a photo of a cougar on Dec. 14, 2020, near Washburn in Bayfield County. A biologist later confirmed the site and documented tracks from the observation. This is the thirteenth confirmed cougar observation for 2020.

A set of tracks were found in Barron County on Nov. 30, 2020, near Barronett. Department biologists later confirmed the tracks. This is the twelfth confirmed cougar observation in 2020.

A trail camera captured a photo of a cougar on Nov. 24, 2020, near Cable, but just within Sawyer County. This individual may be the same confirmed in Sawyer County on Oct. 18, but it is not known for sure. This is the eleventh confirmed cougar observation in 2020.

A trail camera captured a photo of a cougar on Oct. 18, 2020, in Sawyer County. This photo is the tenth confirmed cougar observation for 2020.

A trail camera captured a photo of a cougar on Oct. 1, 2020, in Oconto County. This photo is the ninth confirmed cougar observation for 2020. Based on proximity to earlier reports, this animal may be the same individual from the Shawano, Menominee, Portage, and Waupaca County observations in February and March, or maybe a different individual.

On Feb. 8 and Mar. 29, 2020, a cougar was captured on a trail camera in Shawano County. These photos are the seventh and eighth confirmed cougar observations for 2020. The animal is assumed to be the same individual from the Menominee, Portage, and Waupaca Counties observations in February and March.

In Menominee County, a trail camera photo was captured on Feb. 2, 2020. This photo predates the Mar. 22 Snapshot Wisconsin photo but was confirmed afterward. This is the sixth confirmed cougar observation for 2020.

On Mar. 22, 2020, a Snapshot Wisconsin camera photographed a cougar in Waupaca County. This photo is an important milestone as it is the first cougar documented using the Snapshot program. This is the fifth confirmed cougar observation for 2020 and is assumed to be the same individual observed in Portage County in February.

On Feb. 13, 2020, a trail camera captured photos of a cougar in Portage County, which a DNR biologist later confirmed. This is the fourth confirmed cougar observation for 2020.

A trail camera captured a photo of a cougar in Price County on Feb. 1, 2020, and was later confirmed by a DNR biologist. The animal is suspected to be the same individual from the observations on Jan. 30, 2020, and Dec. 15, 2019. This is the third confirmed observation for 2020.

On Jan. 30, 2020, a trail camera captured a photo of a cougar in Price County, which a DNR biologist later confirmed. The animal is suspected to be the same individual from the Dec. 15, 2019, observation. This is the second confirmed cougar observation for 2020.

On Jan. 17, 2020, a trail camera captured a short video of a cougar in Oneida County. This is the first confirmed cougar observation for 2020.

2019 Observations

On Aug. 29, 2019, a trail camera photo of a cougar in Marinette County was captured. The DNR verified the image, and it is assumed that it is the same individual observed on Aug. 21 and Aug. 23 in the same region. This is the 7th confirmed cougar observation in 2019.

On Aug. 23, 2019, a photo of a cougar in Marinette County was captured. The image has been shared online as having been taken in other locations in the state, but an investigation by the DNR has confirmed the place in Marinette County. This is the 6th established cougar in Wisconsin in 2019.

A trail camera photographed a cougar in Marinette County on Aug. 21, 2019. This is the 5th confirmed cougar observation in Wisconsin in 2019.

A once-in-a-lifetime series of trail camera photos captured a cougar depredating upon a white-tailed deer in Bayfield County on Aug. 20, 2019. The DNR later verified the pictures and location.

On Aug. 13, 2019, tribal wardens confirmed a trail camera photo of a cougar on the Red Cliff Reservation in Bayfield County.

On Apr. 3, 2019, photos of cougar tracks were taken by a cross-country skier near Minocqua in Oneida County.

A video of a cougar was captured on a trail camera near Land O’Lakes in Vilas County on Apr. 5, 2019. The location was about 34 miles northeast of the tracks confirmed in Oneida County 2 days earlier and may have been the same animal.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>