Residents in Elk River have been warned by the city's police department that there could be a cougar in the area.
"The attached images of what appears to be a cougar were captured from a resident’s outdoor security camera recently," Elk River PD said in a Facebook post Wednesday. "The resident lives on the west side of the city near the Mississippi River."
Police have alerted the Minnesota DNR and are asking people to "remain aware of their surroundings at all times."
Cougar sightings happen in Minnesota, with one recently being confirmed by authorities in southern Minnesota's Dodge County, but the DNR notes that suspected sightings are often incorrect.
"Although some cougar sightings in Minnesota are accurately identified, many observations from trail cameras and tracks turn out to be cases of mistaken identity," the DNR says. "Bobcats, house cats, coyotes, wolves, fishers and light colored dogs have all been mistaken as cougars."
Tips from the DNR if you come face-to-face with a cougar:
- Face the cougar directly, raise your arms to make yourself appear larger and speak loudly and firmly. This behavior is in direct conflict with a cougar's tendency to hunt by stalking and attacking from ambush. Do not run, crouch or lay on the ground.
- Do not shoot the animal, even if livestock or pets are threatened. Cougars are a protected species and may only be killed by a licensed peace officer or authorized permit holder.
- Report the encounter or sighting to a conservation officer or local law enforcement authorities as soon as possible so evidence such as photographs, tracks, hair and scat can be located, identified, confirmed and documented.