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. Annie

    Good god everyone is so caught up over a picture, its a wild animal it was hit, welcome to reality, not as MTV would have you see it, but as the REAL WORLD would have you see it! Why dont you go look at the animal shelter pages of completely burned alive dogs, who are still alive, and look 100 times worse than this, those animals look that way on purpose, at the hands of humans. his is nothing, Ive seen more of a mess after cleaning fish with my dad. Oh wait, do kids even know what fishing is these days?? Probably not.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      People don't like it because it looks wike a widdle kitty.

      They don't understand that that thing will rip your face off in the wild.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Actually "The Real World" was a show on MTV. 🙂

      July 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annie

      I dont think most people understand what "wild" animals are anymore, except in a zoo where they are "safe" behind bars!

      July 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ Shaw

      Annie, I'm all on your side. I am very down with reality, and that's why I get irritated when the news censors video showing people being struck down, shot, decapitated, etc. That too is reality, and humans are no more/no less than just another creature on this earth. Why should they be afforded dignity in death so far as journalism is concerned? I mean, even if you believe in something beyond death, your body is just a shell after the soul has moved on, what does it really matter if you're broadcast resembling ground beef? I'm all for it, as death and death by violence is not only natural to life, but inevitable... 🙂

      July 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annie

      MJ couldn't agree more! Jim, hope you caught the sarcasm there! I hated that show! Yet somehow, more like them keep popping up on tv because that's what people want to see, yet they will complain over the photo of a dead wild animal, killed because of humans. This need to "censor" everything is for what good?? To keep little kids from having nightmares? Or to keep those who think the world is all cute and kind all the time from seeing the reality. This is sad that an animal died, yet, it is all part of the cycle here on planet Earth. Maybe kids should watch more of Shark Week and less Jersey Shore!

      July 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cyrus

      Chris, there is truth to that, Mountain lions can be raised and are very affectionate. But, the picture upsets me that's all, I am not sure why. Perhaps it is a symbol of senseless death, of collision of man, his machines really, with nature. So senseless and destructive, the animal braves a 1500 mile journey and survives, must have been a very curious cat, then just some random man made heap of steel kills him. I have been to war (I fought in Iran-Iraq war when I was a teen) and I don't think, it upsets me so much because it's gruesome (it's not) that shows how helpless nature is before our feet. Somehow this really benign picture of this poor cat did upset me.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • save yourself

      CYRUS....of course it can be raised to seem loveable...until one day it clicks thats its a hunter and notices how tasty you look and it eats your face off...

      July 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gary

    Is that what our taxes are going for? Someone actually get paid to test poop DNA? No wonder we have a deficit problem in this country

    July 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • seter16

      Oh my goodness I KNEW someone like you was going to make this ignorant response. People like you wouldn't be the least bit upset to see every species wiped off the face of this earth and stand by and watch while it happens. Get an education.

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

      You're an idiot.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • keeth in cali

      Yeah, because spending any money to learn about the world around us and why things happen is always wasted money. We should defund all cancer research as well. Lazy bums....

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

      Who let you back in the house?

      July 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaggieJS

      Oh puh-LEEZE, Gary! Get over it.

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

      I would much rather have my tax money go to research and protection of our natural resources and environment that we have all so nicely F&*(L'd up then to a bunch of welfare moms sitting at home popping out more kids!

      July 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Why are you so worked up? It's giving someone a job, isn't it?

      July 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    Whats wrong with the photo? Thats what death looks like. Some people are such wimps in this country, cant even look at a picture of a dead animal without complaining about it. Too bad about the mountain lion, it would be nice if they would increase their range to pre 1600 areas.

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

      Amen!!

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

      Personally, I don't complain that they show a dead cougar... I just wish they'd show more dead humans in the news and the live footage that caught the death. I mean, honestly, what's the difference? This animal above is more majestic than many humans and so actually probably deserves more dignity in dying than your run of the mill idiot who stumbles in front of a moving train or bus.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GT66

    1500 miles for such an undignified end. Yup, that's progress.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobo

      Are you trying to make some kind of point here?

      July 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • keeth in cali

      that's what i thought too! sounds like Commissioner Daniel C. Esty would make a great politician, spinning a half-continent solo trek and a senseless death into a positive.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Leslie

    Not sure how one mountain lion found far from home is considered "a strong symbol of what we all hope for – that wilderness areas and biological diversity can be preserved and protected". It seem to me that it was possibly driven from its home by starvation and/or encroachment by humans. How is this "evidence of progress in protecting the environment." I am reasonably well educated with a Math degree and I don't get their logic.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      The progress is shown because the animal is starting to spread back out into the country. We pushed the animals farther and father west as this country moved west. Recently the Eastern Cougar was declared officially extinct, now that mountain lions are starting to move back to the Appalachin area it shows that animals are starting to spread again instead of being pushed to a more isolated area. Sadly other mountain lions would have to make the trip in order for a population to be established and by the looks of it this may take a while. It is amazing when nature finds its way without humans having to reintroduce species to an area.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • DrewInPortland

      It's progress because the efforts that have been taken have allowed wild animals to migrate freely, more or less, over long distances. Prior to these efforts, this animal would have been confined by urban sprawl or hunted and killed well before reaching the east coast.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaggieJS

      It probably means that the lion was able to travel that distance within wooded areas, or areas that have been preserved

      July 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philadelphian trapped in Texas

      I fully concur with Leslie ... this demonstrates habitat loss and global warming, hardly what I would call progress.

      But wait ... was the cat ever spotted anywhere between North Dakota and Connecticut? Maybe it didn't walk all that distance ... perhaps it hitched a ride on a freight train!!!

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

      How can anyone attribute this to global warming????

      July 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Do this google with these terms: "mountain lion sightings east"

      This is no isolated thing. This is not someone letting loose a pet mountain. Pay attention to the fifth item down from National Geographic.

      The commish was right: this is a trend. There will be more mountain lions, more are already here and more coming according to the sightings.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      @Leslie

      These aren't Elk, and they aren't cattle either. Cats are territorial; even with plenty of food available, they will seek out a territory that is theirs exclusively, males with the hope and instinct to build their own pride.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DetroitMark

    Yes, that's very impressive, but that's not important now. Look at that poor ANIMAL!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    A big, bloody, stinky one.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matthew

    Stop complaining about the picture, people. The animal obviously has had an autopsy performed whereby useful information has been gleaned for science about this animal and his trek across the country. If you can't handle a rather mild, non-gruesome picture of a deceased animal in a controlled environment than perhaps you should spend some time with a local war veteran or fire fighter. Maybe you could do a courtesy ride with a local law enforcement officer. Then you could find some backbone.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • seemstomeguy

      seems to me, dead animals have necropsies, not autopsies.

      seems to me.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Dead on Matt.

      The other side of the coin is so many ppl complain that CNN's pictures are to "fluffy"; so was CNN supposed to pull a stock picture of a mountain lion and show it instead? They should the reality: it might make some people care.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    I think once it got to Conn it just decided to commit suicide as it had hit the bottom.

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

      I live there, and I cannot disagree with you.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. huxley

    The last North American mountain lion, ends as road kill.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • What the..

      The last mountain lion? HAHAHAHA sorry but that was from the last.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • What the..

      bah, Meant to say "Far from the last."

      July 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jim in DC

    To Gary: Yes, since it's unlikely any private company, from the goodness of its heart, would do the testing to find out important scientific information related to an unusual sighting of an animal, sometimes government needs to step in. Just a reminder: Government does the longer-range, larger, public good kinds of things that the "market" doesn't do and, in fact, lately seems to be spending a great deal of time trying to undermine. But if you don't particularly believe in the value of science, the public good, some individual sacrifice for the public good, or a useful role for government that is well rooted in a long history of accomplishment then . . . well (and I know this is a leap as great as one that lion may have made while it was alive) you may be enjoying the destruction of a balanced, forward-moving nation right now at the hands of the "Tea Party." Because, after all, no public expenditure, except on incarceration or war, is worthwhile.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dobrojelatel

    I hope it did not do too much damage to the car.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. huh

    Am I the only one that thought of the possibility that this thing was trapped by someone at some point and transported to the area?

    "Hey, it must have traveled 1500 miles, how else could it have gotten here? Case closed. Good job Watson."

    July 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austio

      Apparently. The article states that the lion has been sighted in other states along its travels and these sightings confirmed through DNA testing.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Austio got it: DNA confirms it was one of the big cats sighted between SD and CT.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dobrojelatel

    I wish they made journeys to my state so I can hunt the $!@#! out of them.

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

      LOL... I'm feeding the troll, just because some people on here probably won't understand the sarcasm.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bob

    What the article doesn't mention is that both CT & NY DEC deny that there is any population of Cougars in these states.
    I know 4 or 5 reputable people that over the years have seen them in the Northwest corner of CT & NY. (Not many other cats running around with a 3ft tail) There are more here believe it or not.

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

      Just wait till one shows up at Lieberman's or Cuomo's pool for a drink LOL.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
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