U research shows more cougars are in the Midwest

by Rebecca Harrington

Cougars – the animal kind – have regenerated populations for the first time in 100 years across the Midwest, according to new University of Minnesota research published today in The Journal of Wildlife Management.

“Our study took in over 3.2 million kilometers of territory, confirming the presence of cougars from Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska, to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba," said Michelle LaRue, co-author of the study and Ph.D student at the University, in a news release.

The research used confirmed sightings, tracks, carcasses and DNA evidence to confirm 178 cougars in the Midwest from 1990 to 2008, the Associated Press reported.

Authors of the study said the research questions how humans will adjust to an increase in the predatory cougar population.

"For those who are excited about the notion of living with large carnivores, this is great," Clay Nielsen, co-author of the study and assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, told the Associated Press. "For those worried about livestock degradations, there's going to be division in the ranks in the Midwest. It's going to be interesting to see how the public responds if this colonizing continues."