Connecticut Mountain Lion Traveled from South Dakota

The cougar's 1,100-mile journey is the longest ever recorded.

In what’s being called the longest journey a mountain lion has ever taken in the United States, a cougar , CT, six weeks ago—believed by some to be the same cougar , CT—traveled 1,100 miles from South Dakota to get to New England, Connecticut officials said Tuesday.

According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, collected analyst data shows that the feline known in South Dakota known as the “St. Croix Cougar” journeyed from that state’s Black Hills, through Minnesota and Wisconsin (see attached map) and across the Midwest—likely southern Ontario, Canada—eventually to Greenwich, where it met its end after colliding with a SUV on the Wilbur Cross parkway in Milford.

“This is an incredible journey, nearly double that of any mountain lion [ever recorded],” Connecticut DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty said during a press briefing.

Though the first confirmed sighting occurred in Minnesota, officials believe the mountain lion likely was born in South Dakota, meaning a total distance traveled of closer to 1,800 miles is possible.

Scat samples, including those found in Greenwich, as well as sightings across the nation dating back as far as Dec. 2009, snow tracks, photos from trail cameras, tissues collected for genetic testing and the young male’s unmanicured condition, led analysts—including in a lab in Rocky Hill, CT—to the conclusion mountain lion had not been held in captivity, according to Paul Rego, a supervising wildlife biologist with the DEEP.

Esty touted the cougar's ability to traverse so far in the wild as a testament to efforts from conservationists and environmental protection groups.

“Although this is the story of the first recorded example of a mountain lion sighting in Connecticut in more than 100 years, there is no evidence of a mountain lion [in Connecticut] beyond this single individual,” Esty said.

The findings mark the latest chapter in a story that’s captured the attention and imagination of residents throughout Fairfield County and Connecticut—the gregarious “” on Facebook last week notched her 3,000th friend—as a species in the Nutmeg State appeared to have reemerged.

Within days of the mountain lion’s death on a highway in Milford (see photo), state DEEP officials launched an investigation into whether that cougar had been .

In Greenwich and throughout the state, the dual sightings sparked debate over whether mountain lions were present in greater numbers than state officials had acknowledged. In Fairfield, police were given the green light to that couldn’t be contained.

As investigators searched for answers, including in , residents in Greenwich and other Connecticut towns, , began reporting , was found to be inaccurate.

[Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect distances traveled from confirmed sightings versus scientifically believed points of origin.]

Dee Gradee July 26, 2011 at 11:09 PM
The Stench of Man is swallowing up this entire planet.
Giovanni Pivirotto July 26, 2011 at 11:47 PM
Humans are an amazingly destructive force in the universe. What a tragedy!
Rory Gibbons July 27, 2011 at 12:51 AM
why blame humans ? Lions live Lions die, same as anything else........Humans are a destructive force in the universe? My friend The Universe is a destructive force, know what of you speak.
Timothy Dannenhoffer July 27, 2011 at 01:01 AM
While it's true everything may die eventually when another asteroid hits the earth again - in the meantime it would be nice if we could coexist with other species - take them into consideration - give them ample spaces to thrive etc. Humans may be the most arrogant beings on earth but we're not the only ones.
Timothy Dannenhoffer July 27, 2011 at 02:20 AM
Everything born is born to LIVE THEN die. Giving your house and property back to nature is impractical, but maybe putting some serious thought into where you decide to PUT your house - or second house - wouldn't be such a bad idea. Every chance I get I speak out on behalf of preserving land where it can still be done. I wish this lion - and many others - made it to the Adirondacks and repopulated the area. That's one place humans prematurely snuffed them out where there is enough room for them.
Brian becker July 27, 2011 at 02:32 AM
It was a wonder that the lion made it that far if anything it proves that some human beings show some respect to nature . Let's just be thankful that we still have many beautiful animals to admire
DG July 27, 2011 at 04:04 AM
I dought it walked from SD, it was declawed, it may have been from SD but it was someones pet that got away, no way a mountain lion could survive that long without its claws.
Giovanni Pivirotto July 27, 2011 at 04:16 AM
There are fewer than 3000 tigers of ALL subspecies left in the wild. Their natural habitat has been and is being destroyed at a massive scale. Humans are responsible for this, there is no doubt. Science demonstrates clearly that humans are the cause of the largest species extinction since perhaps when the asteroid hit Earth millions of years ago. If THAT'S not a destructive force, I don't know what is! Should we then take your attitude Rory of "stuff dies" and take no responsibility for the role we have created(term used reluctantly)? And if that is your belief then do not call me friend.
krazyjatt July 27, 2011 at 07:23 AM
Mountain Lion Killed After Historic Multi-State Journey watch http://tinyurl.com/6arsf74
leigh July 27, 2011 at 11:34 AM
wow, what a debate going on in the comment section. I am on the side of ALL animals which means that we all live together w respect. The non human animals are the same as us. The only difference is that we have VERBAL speach. Watch an animal show if you need to be conviced bc soon the TV and the zoo are the only place we will see animals. And this will happen in our lifetime. What will you say to your children and grandchildren? You sat back and watched this happen? We need to speak out and do something. Humans need to steward this earth! Not litter it.
Vintagemom July 27, 2011 at 01:15 PM
With attitudes such as yours, we are indeed fortunate that other species continue to exist on this planet of destructive and selfish humans. You are the one who needs to "learn" of what you speak.
selamity July 27, 2011 at 01:40 PM
Humans are supper power on the earth. But this power is working only when we are thinking and doing in the positive ways.
Cougar conspiracy July 27, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Regardless of our destructive presence on earth, mountain lions do exist in places other than in those far away from human Americans. In fact they were brought to the east coast in the 70s to control the deer population, and wildlife officials have flatly denied their existence here ever since in an attempt to ward off public outcry that would surely result from the knowledge of that fact. Mountain lions have a basic radius of 20 miles. They are, essentially, reclusive home bodies. If you see them in CT, which you could, they live there.
Concerned Citizen July 27, 2011 at 04:50 PM
I am greatly disappointed. Having studied movement patterns of cougars, this is no minor feat, but it's not the first (see below). For this cougar to journey from the Black Hills of SD to CT is amazing, but very plausible. There is ample food available & if it used the suspected route, the cougar should have had plenty of cover. What I'm frustrated about is the cougar's death. This will be the 3rd immediate human-caused death that comes to mind when I think of cougar recolonization. Anyone remember the Roscoe Village cougar? A transient male from the Black Hills was taken out by a cop when it posed no public threat to safety on the Northside of Chicago only 3 years ago. This cat also traveled some 1,000 miles (Link: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080417-cougar-shot.html). Then there was the endangered Florida panther (also a cougar - just another name like mountian lion fyi). This guy in Georgia was hunting deer when he spotted a cougar off in the distance. Utilizing the 'shoot first ask questions later' approach, he shot & killed the cougar. This is outrageous, if you're hunting legally for 1 species, like deer, that doesn't give you authority to kill other species, especially when your "intelligent" actions result in the death of an endangered species trying to naturally recolonize it's native range. The guy was not charged for his wildlife crimes (Link: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2009/aug/05/testing-confirms-panther-shot-hunter-georgia-was-f/).
Timothy Dannenhoffer July 27, 2011 at 09:13 PM
Think you're wrong about just about everything.
Timothy Dannenhoffer July 27, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Just one of MANY outrageous things rednecks (who are closely related to conservatives when they are not the same) get away with. That was a crime and should have been treated as such.
Richard July 31, 2011 at 09:50 PM
They are telling me, this particular Mountain Lion left South Dakota....was spotted in Minnesota....then spotted in North Eastern Wisconsin....six days later they believe this is the same Mountain Lion that was spotted in the FAR Eastern Upper Peninsula then ended up in connecticut in July!!! what did he cross the Mackinaw Bridge? Or take a ferry from Sault Ste. Marie, MI to Sault Ste. Marie Canada? Lets get real, he would have had to turn all the way around walk the entire length of the Upper Peninsula. Then up through Minnesota again and in to Canada. Or walked the entire length of Wisconsin crossing; Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and the numerous other states, in two months!!
Richard July 31, 2011 at 09:52 PM
check that, my fault didn't see that it was killed in June of 2011! my fault


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