Possible cougar sightings have been reported in Eden Prairie and Bloomington recently, according to police.
The Eden Prairie Police Department received a message through its Facebook page on Aug. 14 saying a resident had spotted a cougar at around 8 p.m. near Staring Lake, between the sledding hill and the west parking lot, according to EPPD communications representative Katie Bengtson.
However, Bengtson noted in an email to Eden Prairie News, the person did not call to make a report or speak with an officer. Since 2010, the police department has received around one call per year about possible cougar or mountain lion sightings in Eden Prairie. In most cases, officers found evidence that indicates the caller mistook another animal for a cougar or mountain lion.
2 sightings in Bloomington
Bloomington police said in a news release on Wednesday, Aug. 21, that residents in the area of 102nd Street and Chicago Avenue have reported seeing a "large cat" on two different occasions over the last three days.
"Both described the cat as looking like a cougar," the news release said, adding no photos were taken of the animal.
In the last 15 years, there have been about 30 confirmed cougar sightings in Minnesota, the release said, citing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
According to the DNR, there’s little evidence to suggest a breeding population of cougars in Minnesota.
“Even in California, which has a population of more than 5,000 of the big cats, a person is 1,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a cougar,” the DNR’s website says.
If a cougar is spotted or encountered, Bloomington police offered some safety tips for residents before they call police:
- Keep calm.
- Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly, keeping the cougar in view and allowing a clear exit for the cougar.
- Pick up children and small pets right away.
- Never run or turn your back — sudden movements may provoke an attack.