Brighton resident finds large mammal prints in yard

/Photo by Larry Zamba, Zamba Photography, used with permission.

A photo of the print, with a mitten laid beside for size comparison. /Photo by Larry Zamba, Zamba Photography, used with permission.

Larry Zamba found some animals tracks on his Brighton property this week. He’s seen coyote and other tracks before but these, did not look familiar. And they were large.

A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources biologist got a look at them Friday and couldn’t positively identify the animal that made them.

But Zamba, a professional photographer, thinks the tracks may have been made by a cougar.

The tracks were found Tuesday near a hunted and partially eaten deer Zamba found on his property. The tracks appeared to be tracking the deer. The animal had about a 43-inch stride and left a print about 8 inches wide, by Zamba’s measurements.

Marty Johnson, a DNR biologist examined the scene Friday. He said there were a number of various animal prints in the area and the large one found by Zamba were not distinguishable as coming from any certain animal. For example, the print could have been a combination of more than one print. There was no other evidence in the area, such as waste, that also might have helped determine what made the prints.

“There’s no way to tell what it is,” Johnson said of the print.

There have been no substantiated reports of cougars in the area of late, Johnson said. He encouraged people who think they may have seen such an animal to report it to the DNR here.

Wisconsin has no known resident population of cougars, sometimes called mountain lions, Johnson said. From the DNR website:

The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as puma, mountain lion, panther, catamount, American lion and mishibijn (Ojibwa),is the largest wildcat in North America north of Mexico. It once roamed throughout Wisconsin, one of three wild cats native to the state, along with the bobcat and Canada lynx. Currently, only bobcats are known to breed in Wisconsin.”

Substantiated cougar sightings were recorded in 2008 in Walworth County, believed to be the same cougar that was eventually shot in Illinois by law enforcement, Johnson said. Cougars have occasionally been caught on trail cameras in northern Wisconsin.

Regardless of the lack of positive identification, Zamba said he wanted to get the word out just in case someone else might encounter the animal.

“I think it’s important that people know about this,” Zamba said.




  1. maureen says:

    We also have LARGE prints in the yard!!!
    In Silver Lake, I noticed them in the yard last week!!!

  2. Eldon Johnston says:

    There are many animals go through this area that the DNR denies are here. Cougars go through here quite a bit. Last spring there were porcupines on the DNR land near the public boat launch in Silver Lake. With a track that size, I am sure that it is a cougar. They will often leave their uneaten prey and come back later. Many times they will try to bury it or put in a tree.

  3. Julie says:

    On Father’s Day Last June a cougar was seen by multiple resident in the Lake George sub division in Bristol. We have audio of its mating call. It frequently came back in the evening looking for a mate. I could hear it from my deck as it paced back & forth one street over. The DNR concluded that the audio was an Owl. That Owl sounded rather cat like. We could not enjoy our yard in he evenings because us was too risky.

    We were able to get a clear print photo that was found in the mud exactly where the Mountain Lion was seen pacing. The DNR said all the info was inconclusive & told us that we would need to collect some DNA in order to prove that this Mountain Lion exsist in this area. I thought that was their job to collect the DNA. They are supposed to be experts. What government departments asks civilians to put their life on the Line to do their job???

    I spoke to a zoologist who reviewed the data we collected and they stated, “Most likely you have a Mountain Lion in your area?” They also told me to be cautious when I’m out with my children.

    What other info do they need to confirm that Mountain Lions are making their way back to this area. We as a community need to be aware of our surroundings so we can keep our families safe. It’s as simple as that.

  4. Lester Sheer says:

    I quite like looking through a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

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