A large cat found dead on the side of the freeway in the Twin Cities on Tuesday morning was in fact a cougar.
Bloomington Police Department first confirmed the cougar's death near the ramp from westbound Interstate 494 to northbound I-35W, with the DNR later explaining the situation to Bring Me The News:
"The animal, a 115-pound male, was taken to the DNR Wildlife Research office in Grand Rapids, where it will undergo a necropsy to determine, among other things, if it’s wild and where it might have originated," the statement said.
"We assisted State Patrol and DNR on a cougar that was struck by a car in that area this morning," Bloomington PD Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said.
In August 2019, Bloomington PD provided guidance for people who were worried about possible cougar sightings, though the DNR didn't elaborate on if this could've been the same possible cougar, which was described last year as an animal that resembled a "large cat. The 2019 sightings were reported in the area of 102nd Street and Chicago Avenue, which is 3-4 miles southeast from where the cougar was struck Tuesday morning.
Speculation of a possible cougar at an Eden Prairie park was also a subject of interest in August 2019.
The DNR says it's not unusual for people to mistake other animals for cougars, which can reach up to 200 pounds (adult male). Most, however, are smaller and average about 150 pounds, according to the DNR. Adult female cougars usually weight 90-110 pounds.
"The head appears small in relation to the body, which ranges in length from four to six feet overall. The body is tan except for dark face markings and the tip of the tail, which is nearly as long as the body," the DNR says of cougars.
According to the DNR, there were approximately 30 cougar sightings in Minnesota between 2004 and 2018. "Cougars are verified from time to time in Minnesota, but evidence to date suggests they’re transient animals from the Western Dakotas," the DNR told BMTN.