Cougar sightings have been on the rise in the Upper Midwest for years. Wisconsin has had its fair share of sightings, and four confirmations in the past few years. You hear a lot of stories from the locals about Mountain Lions in the driftless area. In fact the "Castle Rock Cougar" that was spotted by a DNR employee years ago in Grant County was right next to a family friend's farm.
Some people even swear they are in the driftless area, and have been for many years. I wouldn't doubt that for a second either.The driftless area seems to have good habitat for them, high rocky bluffs, deep valleys, large forests and plenty of game to feed on. Wisconsin alone is covered by over 50% forests and filled with wild game. We are home to over 30,000 black bears and approaching 1,000 timber wolves, throw in a large bobcat population and a few Lynx.
So why not cougars? The four confirmed cougars the past four years have all been young males wandering from most likely the Black Hills of South Dakota.
I believe it is just a matter of time before Wisconsin is home to these large cats once again. Cougars are following a similar path that timber wolves did back in the 1970's. Once extinct through out the state the timber wolf started showing back up in the early 70's when populations in neighboring Minnesota started growing. At first it was just a few young males looking to start their own territory. And now the timber wolf is here to stay.
Here is a couple maps/links about Wisconsin's predators.