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A cougar spotted in a Twin Cities neighborhood this week and later found dead on a nearby roadside will be further examined by state wildlife specialists. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the male cougar weighed 130 pounds and measured 6'6" from nose to tail.

The animal was first spotted and photographed Monday in the 1900 block of Boiling Springs Circle by Shakopee resident Andrew Pastrana. 

Soon after, the Savage Police Department found a deceased cougar along a nearby highway. Police and wildlife officials say the animal was apparently struck and killed by a vehicle. 

Bob Fashingbauer, an area wildlife supervisor with the DNR, said the cougar will now undergo a necropsy in Grand Rapids where specialists will hope to learn, among other things, if the animal had once been captive. 

While it's likely to be a wild, transient cougar that had wondered up the Minnesota River Valley from the western Dakotas, Fashingbauer said people would be surprised to know how many large cats are kept as pets in Minnesota.

"It has happened in the past, unfortunately, people've had them as pets and they get tired of feeding them or they get aggressive," he said, adding the animals are sometimes released into the wild when they simply stop being fun for their owners. 

To understand where the cougar came from, specialists will look for common signs of captivity, including tattoos, microchips and clipped nails. The animal's teeth will indicate its age. 

"They'll try to rule out whether it was an escapee or truly a wild one," Fashingbauer explained.

For Minnesota wildlife officials, a confirmed cougar sighting in the media tends to trigger a wave of other firsthand accounts that are, for the most part, unreliable. 

"Every deer that jumps in front of a car for the next month is a cougar," Fashingbauer joked. 

But, the DNR believes a cougar likely roamed the Minnesota River Valley last year and another sighting was confirmed in 2020. 

“That is a natural corridor for a lot of critters coming from the west," Fashingbauer said.  

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