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. Penny

    This saddened me too. I can't believe the animal made it all the way across the country, to only have it's life taken away by a car. We need to give mother nature more credit at times. And I understand the importance of mechanics and how they are essential to our development and progression as a society. But it doesn't take away from the ironicy of how the big cat's story ended. Look how far it made it without the use of mechanics. Driven by pure dedication and hard work. Amazing.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. glen

    I am killing it was proof we are protecting no

    July 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. C

    I love cats(wild and domesticated) so this really puts me in a down mood.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    Mountain lions do not get lost

    July 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. john

    I bet they find a physical reason why this lion was on the prowel. All animials or mamels are teritorial animals. So something was off.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • abidingdude

      Please learn to spell. It's "prowl" and "mammals".

      July 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      also, *animals

      July 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      also, *territorial

      July 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Plzread


    If you read the article it stated that the DNA matched samples taken from Minnesota and Wisconsin. So that animal (or an animal with matching DNA) travelled around 1300 miles to get from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Milford, CT. That's still an amazing amount of distance for a wild animal to travel of its own accord.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • sciihs1958

      The animal probably was trapped in SD and sold to an illegal pet home in CT.

      JEEEZZZZZZ you people are dumb. It's not like he read a travel brochure and thought "I gotta reach Connecticut no matter what the risk".

      July 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • LRonaldHubbs

      "JEEEZZZZZZ you people are dumb. It's not like he read a travel brochure and thought "I gotta reach Connecticut no matter what the risk"."
      And how does this outrageous statement in any way rebut the idea that the animal migrated on its own? Oh right, it doesn't. Try again.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Din,

      This mountain lion says I got to go to Connect I Cut lol

      July 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMissal

      Plzread...exactly my point. DNA samples are tracing the population over time, so of course the sample will match samples found along the path taken during migration. There is NO PROOF that this particular animal travelled 1500 miles, only that the DNA history did. It is possible, sure...but very unlikely. Big cats are territorial, but their populations do spread over time. It is far more likely that the car is a decendent of a series of cats which inadvertantly spread east for whatever readon.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jessicaber

    This is my sons' dad's spirit animal and one of our children was wrongy taken from us in VT and given to my cousin in CT for no reason and she does not let us see him. She has not let us see our son in 6 years. This animal was probably going to CT on our deepest desires. So sad.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Bean You are completely insane, you know that right? I think we can all guess at the real reason your son was taken...

      July 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • happen

      lol jessicaaber that's the funniest thing i've heard all week

      July 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • White Mike

      'Scuse me?

      July 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      I don't see why your child was taken from you at all. You seem completely sane.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ....WeirdAzzFreak

      You are freakin WEIRDDDD go back to the woods you friggin hippie!

      July 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Your son was probably taken from you to keep him from suffocating on all the clouds of pot smoke in your home.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bill

    Mark, the road is very curvy so I do not blame the driver. you should see all the deer that get hit! the real story is the fact that people have seen these cats here for years the the DEEP say there not. We had a rash of sightings in the spring and the DEEP said that it must have been a pet that was released or escaped. The ECON side of the DEEP is made up of a bunch of idiots that are worried about their overtime and they do not play well with others.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CT Laural gal

    There have been many sitings here in CT of mountain lions and we kept getting told.. "Nope.. not in CT... sorry..." Well, there she is and it took a death to prove it.. It does make me sad.. I've been on an animal preserve and petted a Cougar... They purr VERY LOUD..
    A few thoughts... Geography... Traveling across the bad lands of SD. Limited food during that trek.. hmmmm not sure.. I tend to agree with those that say the beautiful creature was brought from SD... There's so much that we don't know about when it comes to animals being placed in a new areas.. The groups that do the relocating aren't going announce it to everyone... If there was one mountain lion, then most likely there are two or three.. Just my thoughts.... Take them with a grain of salt.... :o)

    July 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      How do you explain the sightings in MN and WI, not to mention all the chew toy size dogs that disappeared in the region Big Kitty was roaming? I like to know if there is any evidence that she may have had a litter or the past couple of years. Would be good to know she left a few souvenirs along the way.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. XAQ

    So it sounds to me like they are assuming there is only 1 mountain lion left, and this one was it. They say they're assuming that all the other reported sightings were of this particular cat. Hogwash. Mountain lions in Arkansas were thought to be well extinct long ago. The park service went so far as to hire a tracker to find evidence of big cats after locals reported seeing and hearing mountain lions. The tracker found none, and claimed them to be extinct from the area. That was until the park service put up motion-sensing cameras to catch dope-growers and got themselves a pretty picture of a mountain lion. These cats are notoriously evasive, finding one means there are at least several more in the area.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Charlie

    I hope he didn't try to come through Chicago during rush hour

    July 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      also this is quite a sad but hopeful story

      July 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nvnchn

    was it killed by a chevy impala or vw rabbit

    July 27, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chicagoan

    We had a mountain lion (a.k.a. cougar, puma) made it's way into urban Chicago where it was shot by police a few years ago (2008). It had been making headlines for months as it trekked through Wisconsin, into N.Illinois, then into the big city. Shame it couldn't have been captured or tranquilized before it became a public safety issue. Officials said it came from South Dakota as well.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jessicaber

    Police would not shoot a mountain lion. They are endagered.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rural WA

      No, they are not endangered. Your ignorance clear.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Amy

    Although there is some positive in this story, I find it very disturbing that the media felt it necessary to show this poor animal dead on the table after such a long journey. Very poor taste. Why is it necessary to make such a statement?

    July 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
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