Cougar. Photo: Shutterstock
Cougars are on the rise in the Midwest. From 1990 to 2008, the number of sightings confirmed by wildlife professionals increased. That's good news for fans of big cats, which were extirpated from most of that area around 1900. In a recent issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management, Michelle LaRue of the University of Minnesota documented sightings by state, courtesy of data collected from The Cougar Network. (While counting, she and her team left out numbers from two areas where cougars have established populations: the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Badlands of North Dakota post-2006.) We contacted LaRue to learn a bit more about her study, "Cougars Are Recolonizing the Midwest: Analysis of Cougar Confirmations During 1990–2008." She let us know that since 2008, the numbers have continued to increase. Here's a breakdown of the rise of mountain lions in the Midwest, by the numbers.
178: Total cougar sighting confirmations in 14 states and provinces in midwestern North America between 1990 and and 2008, using data only verified by qualified wildlife professionals.