Officials: Mountain lion traveled from South Dakota to Connecticut
Connecticut officials prepare the mountain lion for a necropsy. A car struck the animal in Milford, Connecticut, in June.
July 27th, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Officials: Mountain lion traveled from South Dakota to Connecticut

The first wild mountain lion confirmed in Connecticut in 100 years traveled to the northeastern state from the Black Hills of South Dakota, Connecticut officials say.

The mountain lion was killed when a car struck it in Milford, Connecticut, on June 11. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said genetic tests proved the animal's origin. Connecticut has no native population of mountain lions.

"This mountain lion traveled a distance of more than 1,500 miles from its original home in South Dakota - representing one of the longest movements ever recorded for a land mammal and nearly double the distance ever recorded for a dispersing mountain lion," agency Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said in a news release.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Wildlife Genetic Laboratory in Missoula, Montana, matched DNA taken from droppings, blood and hair found at the location of mountain lion sightings in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010 with DNA taken from the Milford animal, Connecticut authorities reported. Other mountain lion sightings in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as Michigan are believed to be of the same animal, authorities said.

Despite the mountain lion's death, Esty said it was evidence of progress in protecting the environment.

“A wild mountain lion traveling through our state is certainly an anomaly,” he said in the release. “It is, however, a strong symbol of what we all hope for - that wilderness areas and biological diversity can be preserved and protected.  Thankfully, through the hard work and dedication of conservationists, wildlife experts and everyone who cares about our environment and natural resources our state and nation have made great progress in achieving this goal.”
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Filed under: Animals • Connecticut • Mountain lions • South Dakota
soundoff (457 Responses)
  1. jam

    Do a google search for "broken tail tiger". Great and sad story about a tigers journey in India.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Henry


      It wasn't really a migrant cougar.... I was working in Chicago in a meat company with a lot of livstock on a cargo train. One day I saw a big feline traveling on the top of the train waiting for his chance to catch a lamb there! When I reported that to my boss and friends, they never belived me but after 2 days, another worker saw the same big cat. Sometimes people have indirectly caused the migration of the animals.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jay Dee

    I wish you had not chosen this gruesome picture of the animal.

    July 27, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ali

      I felt the same way; poor cat.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • bill


      July 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Righton

      What should they have used, a stock photo of a mountain lion? I wish you would grow a pair!

      July 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      It's not even that bad? Have you ever drove on a road and seen roadkill? or do you sensor yourself every chance you get?

      July 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. little timmie

    I sure wish it would not have been hurt or killed. Even in an accident. Way too many people. Not nearly enough wildlife. Please help stop the so called sport known as hunting. PETA and ASPCA RULES !

    July 27, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • MoreSnow

      Big game hunters don't hunt Cougars, they hunt mostly deer. Hunting is the only way to sustain the deer population, so that they don't eat all of the food supply and starve themselves to death.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • rashid

      Sorry, More Snow, you can hunt mountain lions, with licensing. And its not called Big Game Hunting anymore. Hunting has spread to strictly trophy racks, meat is of little importance. I hate it, and I've knocked down my share of animals. Like everything else in the USA, mutated.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      ASPCA, yes.
      PeTA is a terrorist organization.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorthDakotaDude

      The majority of those people against hunting have no experience in a rural area at all. Of course that in itself is a stereotype but for people that have grown up hunting and around wildlife realize the importance of hunting as more than just a sport. Without hunting, disease and famine spread quickly when there are large populations of a certain animal. All of this is controlled by licensing and the Game and Fish Department and locally enforced by game wardens.

      For instance, in North Dakota we had a record amount of snow fall this winter. Many deer starved to death and were forced into small towns and cities in search of food not covered by snow. This is with the large amount that are killed and used for food during hunting season. Now imagine if there were no control. Thousands more would of starved to death this winter alone. It is important to note hunters use the animals they kill in the making of various meat products. These animals arent just being hunted and left lay where they fall.

      I am not condoning poaching or the unlawful killing of animals without a license or those that are endangered but making hunting out to be a sport only done by butchers, rednecks and people who hate animals is just silly. The majority of hunters have more respect for and knowledge about the wildlife in the area they hunt then you'll probably ever know.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatguy

      PETA does totally rock, I am a member of People Eating Tasty Animals. And IF you are hunting for food, I have no issue with it, it is trophy hunting I despise. If you are using the food (or protecting a food source like livestock from coyotes etc) hunting is not bad. As mentioned, hunting Deer is actually a beneficial thing for the deer population as they don't have enough natural predators other than man, so they over populate which imbalances the ecosystem without people hunting them. Plus, Deer are tasty 🙂

      July 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Righton

      Anyone who supports an animal rights organization is off the deep end. There's a large difference between treating animals properly (ie not abusing them but using them for their intended purpose) and allowing them to roam free and give them civil rights (ala PETA).

      July 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • CowgirlLife

      Why do you PETA people think your way of life is the only acceptable way of life? You’re not intelligent enough to realize that just maybe you don’t have all the answers and arrogant enough to think you do. I have a freezer full of venison and tame rabbit and am thankful that it reduces my grocery bill and when taken within my county's limits, it's one or two less some pore sole will hit with a vehicle. Three innocent teens in two different accidents near me are gone now because deer were on the road. I'm not hesitant one bit to shoot a coyote to keep him away from my livestock. And I have lots of horses that actually are happier when they have a job to do. Animals have a purpose, some become part of the family and are in our hearts forever and some are just food! Quit pretending you have all the answers and learn to live with your beliefs and I’ll live with mine.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • captainhurt

      ROCK ON! any animal protection agencies ! sea sheperd, greenpeace, aspca, humane society, AND peta. ROCK ON!

      the logic of promoting "hunting to reduce overpopulation and suffering" is not accurate nor consistent with other behaviors. Unlike "handouts to poor african families" who exponentially outbreed their resources,
      animal populations will auto-adjust populations based on environment. Occassionaly, a drought or human endeavor will impact food/land supply, but you cant pick/choose the victims by shooting em.
      2nd example, humans generally find it illegal AND immoral to shoot indians or afrikaners or (pregnant welfare recipients) cuz they breed way too fast.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • SDN

      Righton: "Anyone who supports an animal rights organization is off the deep end." Now that is perfect display of critical thinking. I suppose we can expect to find you in the 'shallow' end – would make perfect sense, no?

      July 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorthDakotaDude


      Its obvious you have never left the city. Animal populations can auto adjust if they have natural predators. Even then, if they grow too large they are prone to food shortages and disease that will spread rapidly and could cause more harm to their population than hunting. Animals like deer have few natural predators save for the occasional wolf or mountain lion.

      It seems largely people who come from cities and have never actually been out in the wilderness where there wasn't a road to follow or a campsite set up with electricity and a convenience store have this mindset that killing anything ever is wrong. How do you think all that food gets to the store in the first place?

      People hunting simply to harvest 1 part (like ivory) from an endangered animal and leave the rest to waste is an entirely different matter. But for most of us, hunting is a way of life as both enjoyment, gaining knowledge and respect for wildlife and as a way to feed ourselves and our families.

      Now if you are seriously comparing shooting human beings is equal to shooting a deer...than just wow. Like others have said, you're probably a perfect candidate for PETA and probably a court ordered psych evaluation.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    Fascinating how they compared DNA from 3 year old poo.
    Who wouldn't want *that* job?

    July 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mugwump

      I would have liked that job. Anything's better than having to sit on the phone at a computer all day doing customer service while those little cyborg managers monitor your every word and the time you take in the bathroom and then deny you a raise and give out candy and balloons instead.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobo

      @ Mugwump ... I was thinking the same thing. I would GLADLY take that job. Likely has decent pay, probably work in a lab, and occasionally get to go out in the wild. I'd much rather be analyzing animal poop than installing insulation in 140 degree attics and driving to the city dump 3 times a day.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      @ Mug, hahaha you crack me up!

      July 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Don

    I wonder if they have considered all the possibilities of how the cat got there? Couldn't it have jumped inside a truck, say on a loading dock, and become trapped inside? Or perhaps someone found or caught it as a cub and brought it home to Connecticut with them. II it came from SD on its own, what was its route? It either crossed a bridge over the Mississippi or went north in MN to near Itasca and then headed south, possibly following the Mississippi until it encountered the Ohio, which it followed to the northeast. Whatever route it took, it was quite the adventure.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heid Theba

      Everyone talking about the route this big cat took seems to be working under the impression that it had a US passport + drivers' license and essentially followed I-90 to get to CT- it could just as easily have headed north from SD, gone through Canada north of the Great Lakes and then headed south to CT when it neared the east coast. Wild animals are not great respecters of National borders as we understand them.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Christina

    If it's actually dead, why have they tied it's legs down and slicing it with a knife. I really don't like this picture. Also maybe the mountain lion didn't feel free and conservation is working, maybe it felt threatened and suffocated and was looking for a better area. Just a different perspective.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I agree Christina. It is very sad that it died such a horrible death. I am an animal advocate and cannot stand to see cruelty to animals (I can't understand why anyone would like that). The photo should have been a profile photo of a live cougar. There was no need to show a photo of the bloodied, dead cougar while it is have an autopsy done.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      The legs are not tied down. What you see is what they used to draw blood for DNA testing. Mountain lions are known to have a 600 mile square radius territory and move further when more space is needed. As for the PETA idiots hunting is a way of life here in upstate NY. Yes, some are trophy hunters but they are usually rich. I am Native American and totally believe in hunting. I have a family of 6 and it really makes the winters hard when we don't get any deer. Hunting is a way to control the population for starvation and disease. Or maybe you would just prefer to watch that friendly little coyote pulling a new born fawn from its mother as she is giving birth. This is reality. I love animals and have owned animals all my life but even as a child I new that hunting was the right thing to do for the environment. It crates a balance.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • marie

      Obviously you don't remember much from high school bio. It's legs are tied down for an autopsy/dissection. Rigor mortis anyone?

      July 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • SDN

      Kim: I'm certainly not opposed to hunting for food. However, your argument that hunting creates a 'balance' really doesn't fly. The balance here on Earth worked perfectly up until 20 or 30 thousand years ago when we showed up. When we started killing for fun, or to cure erectile dysfunction, things got even worse.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    F that, man, I don't want any mountain lions in my state!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. EatThemUpYum

    Why did the mountain lion cross the road?

    July 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • EatThemUpYum

      It didn't!

      July 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lisa

    The picture is uncalled for.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • natalie

      yes the picture is reality. just like coffins coming back from Iraq. It is real life.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stupid

    Obama killed that Mountain lion. it was his evil plot with the liberal pinko commie citizens of Connecticut to kill mountain lines, grandmothers, freedom, the economy and fast food.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Yes the photo is necessary.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. juliagulia

    is this photo really necessary?

    July 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Al

    Wow, I really didn't need to see this picture...poor thing. Is it necessary?

    July 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frankly Speaking..

    The lion was told he may not get his social security check if the debt cieling was not raised..he could not take the pressure

    July 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon

    Traveled 1,500 year over possibly 3 years but killed by a car in minutes. I wonder if the person was on a cell phone while they were driving.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Probably not. Since it's Connecticut, they were probably not expecting A F'ING MOUNTAIN LION to run out in front of their car (probably in the middle of the woods so not watching for pedestrians or anything).

      July 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      Chris: What difference does it make what *type* of animal ran into the road you're supposed to be prepared? What, are Connecticut drivers only trained to brake for deer?

      July 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobo

      You guys are killing me here. Have you never in your life hit a dog or deer or even a car?! It's not always possible to be prepared. It's not like the mountain lion was taught to look both ways before crossing the street. If you're driving 45 and a mountain lion sprints across the street how much time do you think you're going to have to react. Jesus H Christ...

      July 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • SDN

      Chris: You really gotta have this 'mountain lion hate' complex looked into.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Deb

    This picture is very uncalled for! Really CNN?!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
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