Published December 13, 2012, 10:59 AM

VIDEO: Cougar caught on camera in Osakis area

With glowing eyes, the curious creature looked directly at the camera and crept forward slowly with a slinky gait. Where it ventured from there remains a mystery.

By: Amy Chaffins, Forum Communications

OSAKIS, Minn. - With glowing eyes, the curious creature looked directly at the camera and crept forward slowly with a slinky gait.

Where it ventured from there remains a mystery.

A cougar captured on trail camera video has people buzzing about where it came from and what it was doing in the Osakis area.

It was on Jerry Kuhlman’s property that the infrared camera caught the 20 seconds of video.

“I was shocked when I saw it,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding that they’re out there.”

The Kuhlmans own 320 acres near Osakis, about two miles south of Interstate 94.

The cougar was caught on camera Nov. 20 at 9:17 p.m., two days before Thanksgiving.

Kuhlman reviewed the trail cam footage the day after Thanksgiving.

“We went out on a hayride on Thanksgiving Day with a bunch of kids and after I saw the video I was thinking maybe I should have been carrying a weapon,” he said.

“I’ve walked around out there a lot without a firearm but I don’t think I’ll be doing that anymore. I’ll be a little more cautious,” Kuhlman said.

Kuhlman said he has spotted plenty of deer on his trail camera along with timberwolves and coyotes, but never a cougar.

The camera records 30-second segments when motion is detected. In the video, the cougar slowly stalks toward the camera and it stops recording just as the big cat is in mid-stride approaching the camera.

Kuhlman said he wishes he knew what happened next.

He said, “Cougars do cover a big area so who knows where it is now, if it stayed around. It could be in South Dakota by now.”

DNR weighs in

Jeff Johanson, the Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in the Osakis area, said, “I usually receive a couple of reports of possible cougar sightings each year, but usually the claims are not able to be substantiated.

“I would think that the cougar is just passing through the Osakis area,” Johanson said. “Usually these animals are coming from areas out west, and it may be a young one looking for its own territory.”

He added, “A couple of years ago, biologists were able to track a cougar that originated out west, was captured on police dash cam in the metro area, made its way through Wisconsin, and eventually was killed by a vehicle somewhere on the East Coast.”

Prefer the high ground

A cougar’s preferred natural habitat is mountainous areas that provide dense, brushy vegetation and rocky terrain, from which it can observe and stalk its prey. It also can be found in all forest areas including lowlands and mountainous deserts, Johanson explained.

The cougar’s primary food sources are bighorn sheep, elk, deer, porcupines, hares, rodents, bobcats and coyotes.

“A cougar is a predatory wild animal and could be dangerous to people, farm animals, or pets," he said. "Usually, a cougar will flee at the sight or smell of humans, like most other wild animals, but there are always exceptions. I would like to remind people if they see a cougar to keep a safe distance away from it and do not put the animal in a position where it feels it has to defend itself.”

Cougars are protected wild animals in Minnesota and there is no open season to hunt, trap, or kill them.

“With that being said, if a person is trying to protect themselves or others from immediate harm, or, if they are trying to protect their farm animals or pets from the same, they would be allowed to do that,” Johanson said. “Within the last couple of years, a man was convicted of killing a cougar in Jackson County when the facts of the case showed that he had killed the cougar and none of the listed exceptions were present.”

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