Potential cougar passing through Lyle - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Potential cougar passing through Lyle

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LYLE, Minn. (KTTC) -- Imagine you're walking in the woods by your house and you see large claw marks. Your heart begins to race, and you call the Department of Natural Resources.

"A lot of times it's misidentification, whether it's coyotes or a wolf actually," said DNR Conservation officer Steve Chihak.
"In the case of a cougar it may be just a bobcat."

A yelp from Dennis Stayton's dog Shiloh was all it took for the Lyle resident to come check out the area around his home. He found some pretty big claw marks on a tree near his property.

"You know a cougar is going to be about that high, okay," said Chihak as he showed Stayton the height of the claw marks are near the height of a cougar.  "You know, anywhere from in that range."

The tree near Stayton's horse stable is just one of the trees mauled by this potential cougar.

This isn't the only sighting around Lyle.

"A farmer stated that he actually saw a cougar eating on one of his calves in the barn area," said Chihak.  "He said he was within ten feet of it, but as soon as he saw it he ran out of the barn."

Although that may be a normal first reaction it's not always the best.

"What you want to do is make yourself larger.  Raising your hands talking in a loud very commanding voice.  You don't want to run," said Chihak.

After you have separated yourself, telling the authorities should come next.

"It's difficult for us to make a determination if there really is a cougar in the area by the evidence," said Chihak.  "The evidence is usually scavenged upon or is gone."

For now the little dog Shiloh is safe, but whether this was just another coyote or something more remains to be seen.  The DNR is in the process of examining the evidence.  Cougars are not native to the area, but Chihak speculates they could be traveling through the region from the Dakotas.

Only 14 confirmed reports of cougars have been filed in the region since 2007.
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