A Twin Cities resident had a once-in-a-lifetime cougar sighting Monday evening while returning home from Dairy Queen.
Shakopee resident Andrew Pastrana said he spotted the large cat in the backyard of a residence in the 1900 block of Boiling Springs Circle shortly before 9:30 p.m.
The 18-year-old was heading home from Dairy Queen with his siblings and cousin when they spotted a coyote and stopped to take a look.
When they turned around again to head towards home, Pastrana said another animal caught his eye — he snapped a picture, believing he'd spotted another coyote.
Later, looking at the photograph, his sister said the animal looked more like a lion.
"Then I started noticing it didn't look like a coyote at all," Pastrana remembered. "A lot of people told me it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a picture like that.
While mountain lion sightings in the Twin Cities are extremely rare, such sightings aren't unheard of near the Minnesota River.
Pastrana said his family reported the sighting to the Shakopee Police Department and learned another sighting had already been recently reported.
There've been several unconfirmed sightings reported in neighboring Savage in recent years and a confirmed sighting in 2002.
And, in 2020, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed a 115-pound cougar had been struck and killed by a car near I-494 and I-35W in Bloomington.
There were a 12 sightings verified that year, according to the DNR.
"While evidence might suggest the animal's prevalence is increasing, the number of verified cougar observations indicate that cougar occurrence in Minnesota is a result of transient animals from the Western Dakotas," the DNR states, adding bobcats, house cats, wolves and other animals have all been mistaken for cougars.
Sadly, it appears the cougar spotted in Shakopee this week has since been killed. The Savage Police Department has confirmed an officer located a deceased cougar on Tuesday.
Find our latest update here.