Minnesota cougar captured on film

spectr17

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Apr. 27, 2002  

Cougar captured — on film

BY JOHN WELBES, St. Paul Pioneer Press


Photo courtesy of Kerry Kammann

Kerry Kammann mounted a motion-detecting camera at the site of a deer kill behind the Cargill plant in Savage where he works that snapped photos of a cougar the week of April 8.  


The urban legend of mountain lions lurking near populated areas is shedding its mythology and becoming verified fact. Images of a cougar captured on film earlier this month show at least one wandering the Minnesota River Valley in Savage.

Kerry Kammann, an employee at Cargill's grain elevator in Savage, heard rumors of a mountain lion sighting earlier this month. The rumor received more fuel the morning of April 9, when Kammann and another employee found cougar tracks and a deer's carcass in freshly fallen snow near the elevator.

The deer "was roughed up pretty good," Kammann said. "There were puncture marks and clamping on the throat. It looked like they had a pretty good tussle."

He and his co-workers talked about it for the rest of the day. "The cougar hadn't feasted on (the deer) yet," he said. It seemed he had killed it early in the morning and hadn't had the opportunity to feed on it."

Kammann, an amateur photographer, impulsively decided that same day to buy a camera with an infrared motion detector. The purchase would prove his theory about the cat's unfinished business. The 51-year-old utility man for Cargill is still excited he was able to get the shots.

"We've heard about one lion over here, and one over in the western suburbs," he said Friday. "But you know, nobody's ever got pictures."

Kammann put the camera, which takes flash photos when its motion detector is tripped, in a tree about 10 feet from the deer. The next morning he returned to find that the camera had snapped a few shots. He recorded shots of the cougar that night and the next two nights. The camera's clock mechanism indicated the shots were taken between 8 and 10 p.m., usually at about 10- to 20-minute intervals. He thinks that may indicate that the flash momentarily frightened the cat.

The cougar photos have been the talk of Cargill's Savage facilities this month, Kammann said, and the state's Department of Natural Resources was notified. Con Christianson, a specialist on fur-bearing animals for the DNR, said there aren't easy answers about what to do with a verified cougar sighting.

"I wouldn't say it's dangerous. I wouldn't say it isn't," he said. There's no definitive way to tell if the animal is wild or an escaped pet, he added, which would change the way it relates to humans.

Two incidents in the same week Kammann took his photos indicate how the cat responds to people. Early one morning, Dan Marquardt, who works at the nearby Cargill fertilizer plant, was driving a truck on a dike behind the plant and spotted the cougar lying in the snow. "It stared at us for three or four minutes and then it got up" and ran away, he said. Another worker spotted the cougar the next morning when it also ran away.

Christianson said a range of opinions will likely surface on what to do about the cat. "Some people would like to have it removed. Some would say leave it alone completely," and there will probably be variations in between, he added. But even trapping the cat alive brings complications. "If you live trap it where do you take it?" he said. "No one's asking for it to be brought to their area."

Christianson also cautioned any would-be hunters pondering a trip to the river valley: Cougars are protected animals in Minnesota and it's against the law to trap or hunt them.

He added that Kammann's photography is the "first well-substantiated sighting that we've seen." Over the years the DNR has received reports of cougars in the metro area, from Anoka to Washington County and the Minnesota River Valley, he said. But the DNR knows of no breeding population of mountain lions in the state.

Knowing where the Savage cougar came from or where it's going would be hard to determine, he added. The animals roam wide areas and "30 miles is nothing to a critter like this," he said.

Kelly Keeler of Bloomington, who frequently runs on the trails on the north side of the river valley, said she had heard rumors of mountain lions in the area before. She hadn't given it much thought, though.

On nice days runners and mountain bikers are on the trails, including routes on the river's south side. "But it's not heavily trafficked by any means," she said.

Word of the cougar sighting in Savage has Keeler's attention but it doesn't have her worried. "I'd be nervous to go in the dark by myself... Not because of wildlife but because of people," she said. As for the cougar, she added, "I think it would be kind of cool to see it, but I'll be a little more wary."

CAT ENCOUNTERS

Cougar attacks on humans are relatively rare. Government agencies reported 55 attacks throughout North America in the 1990s, seven of them fatal.

The most recent fatal attack occurred in Alberta, Canada, in January 2001, when a cougar stalked and killed a 30-year-old female cross-country skier in Banff National Park.

Some safety tips for avoiding trouble with cougars, from the National Park Service:

• Hike in small groups rather than alone. Runners are at higher risk.

• Make enough noise to keep from surprising a cougar.

• Keep children under close control, preferably in view just ahead of you.

• Stay away from dead animals.
 

spectr17

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Apr. 27, 2002  

Cougar captured — on film

BY JOHN WELBES, St. Paul Pioneer Press


Photo courtesy of Kerry Kammann

Kerry Kammann mounted a motion-detecting camera at the site of a deer kill behind the Cargill plant in Savage where he works that snapped photos of a cougar the week of April 8.  


The urban legend of mountain lions lurking near populated areas is shedding its mythology and becoming verified fact. Images of a cougar captured on film earlier this month show at least one wandering the Minnesota River Valley in Savage.

Kerry Kammann, an employee at Cargill's grain elevator in Savage, heard rumors of a mountain lion sighting earlier this month. The rumor received more fuel the morning of April 9, when Kammann and another employee found cougar tracks and a deer's carcass in freshly fallen snow near the elevator.

The deer "was roughed up pretty good," Kammann said. "There were puncture marks and clamping on the throat. It looked like they had a pretty good tussle."

He and his co-workers talked about it for the rest of the day. "The cougar hadn't feasted on (the deer) yet," he said. It seemed he had killed it early in the morning and hadn't had the opportunity to feed on it."

Kammann, an amateur photographer, impulsively decided that same day to buy a camera with an infrared motion detector. The purchase would prove his theory about the cat's unfinished business. The 51-year-old utility man for Cargill is still excited he was able to get the shots.

"We've heard about one lion over here, and one over in the western suburbs," he said Friday. "But you know, nobody's ever got pictures."

Kammann put the camera, which takes flash photos when its motion detector is tripped, in a tree about 10 feet from the deer. The next morning he returned to find that the camera had snapped a few shots. He recorded shots of the cougar that night and the next two nights. The camera's clock mechanism indicated the shots were taken between 8 and 10 p.m., usually at about 10- to 20-minute intervals. He thinks that may indicate that the flash momentarily frightened the cat.

The cougar photos have been the talk of Cargill's Savage facilities this month, Kammann said, and the state's Department of Natural Resources was notified. Con Christianson, a specialist on fur-bearing animals for the DNR, said there aren't easy answers about what to do with a verified cougar sighting.

"I wouldn't say it's dangerous. I wouldn't say it isn't," he said. There's no definitive way to tell if the animal is wild or an escaped pet, he added, which would change the way it relates to humans.

Two incidents in the same week Kammann took his photos indicate how the cat responds to people. Early one morning, Dan Marquardt, who works at the nearby Cargill fertilizer plant, was driving a truck on a dike behind the plant and spotted the cougar lying in the snow. "It stared at us for three or four minutes and then it got up" and ran away, he said. Another worker spotted the cougar the next morning when it also ran away.

Christianson said a range of opinions will likely surface on what to do about the cat. "Some people would like to have it removed. Some would say leave it alone completely," and there will probably be variations in between, he added. But even trapping the cat alive brings complications. "If you live trap it where do you take it?" he said. "No one's asking for it to be brought to their area."

Christianson also cautioned any would-be hunters pondering a trip to the river valley: Cougars are protected animals in Minnesota and it's against the law to trap or hunt them.

He added that Kammann's photography is the "first well-substantiated sighting that we've seen." Over the years the DNR has received reports of cougars in the metro area, from Anoka to Washington County and the Minnesota River Valley, he said. But the DNR knows of no breeding population of mountain lions in the state.

Knowing where the Savage cougar came from or where it's going would be hard to determine, he added. The animals roam wide areas and "30 miles is nothing to a critter like this," he said.

Kelly Keeler of Bloomington, who frequently runs on the trails on the north side of the river valley, said she had heard rumors of mountain lions in the area before. She hadn't given it much thought, though.

On nice days runners and mountain bikers are on the trails, including routes on the river's south side. "But it's not heavily trafficked by any means," she said.

Word of the cougar sighting in Savage has Keeler's attention but it doesn't have her worried. "I'd be nervous to go in the dark by myself... Not because of wildlife but because of people," she said. As for the cougar, she added, "I think it would be kind of cool to see it, but I'll be a little more wary."

CAT ENCOUNTERS

Cougar attacks on humans are relatively rare. Government agencies reported 55 attacks throughout North America in the 1990s, seven of them fatal.

The most recent fatal attack occurred in Alberta, Canada, in January 2001, when a cougar stalked and killed a 30-year-old female cross-country skier in Banff National Park.

Some safety tips for avoiding trouble with cougars, from the National Park Service:

• Hike in small groups rather than alone. Runners are at higher risk.

• Make enough noise to keep from surprising a cougar.

• Keep children under close control, preferably in view just ahead of you.

• Stay away from dead animals.
 

Brotherwolf

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Cool!
There have been many rumors that there are mountian lions here in Iowa, last year one was hit by a car and there have been a few sightings. I've also heard there is one lurking in the county next to mine. I'd like to catch on on film!!!!
 

TNDEERHUNTER

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Cool,great shot. I often wonder whats in the woods that we don't see. Our cams might give us an insight.
 

jayber

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Never saw mention of what type of cam he used, homebrew or otherwise!  :smile-big-blue:
 

h2obobh2o

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These DNR officials, Game Commission officials etc.etc. ALWAYS have the same reply....It's someone's pet that they couldn't take care of, It escaped from a circus..blah blah blah. They won't admit that these cougars could possibly be legitimate wild cougars. I know an old timer here in Pennsylvania that has seen 6 cougars, he has pictures of one, numerous plaster cast's of the cat's prints, he showed the Game Commission the fresh tracks, and the picture, and they said it was someone's pet that couldn't afford to feed it anymore, and turned it loose. Yes, I believe that some of these sightings could be from a pet set free, but come on, not every single incident is a pet that was set free!!
 

gizz

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C'mon h2obobh2o, we PA'ers know that what the old timer saw was just a couple Penn State Nittany Lions!!
BTW, I agree with you 100%. Some day i hope(or not?) to capture a wild cat(mtn lion/cougar) on one of my cams. I think there is something out there but it's very elusive. I remember when the PGC claimed that Coyote didn't exist and Bobcat were very scarce. Well I have "lots" of coyote pics and several Bobcat pics, all within 1/2 mile of my house.
Maybe we'll prove everything this spring and summer with our cam's.
 

ToddP

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There's no deer in PA either!!!

LOLLLLL:rofl:rofl:rofl:rofl:rofl:
 

spectr17

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Area photo captures the elusive cougar

By Nancy Huddleston, Prior Lake American Correspondent

May 03, 2002

Kerry Kammann never imagined that shooting a photograph of a cougar would garner the media feeding frenzy that has been going on around him for the past week.
But he’s taking it all in stride – now that he’s been interviewed by four different television reporters, six different newspaper reporters and gotten reports from friends and relatives that the story was picked up on the Associated Press wire and ran in papers as far north as Hibbing and Duluth.

So what’s left to ask the most famous employee of Port Cargill’s grain division?

“What possessed him to spend $250 on a motion-sensing camera to take a picture of the cougar?”

Blame Kammann’s late father – who was a newspaperman. “If I hadn’t done it, he’d have come back down here and kicked my butt,” he says with a laugh. “It goes back to trying to find out what’s going on and getting to the source of the story and rumors.”

Kammann’s quest to find out about the rumors of a cougar at Port Cargill is rooted in his love of the outdoors and the “creatures” he’s seen on Cargill’s land in northern Savage during the 32 years he’s worked at the facility. “There’s a group of us around here who find this property special because of the wild diverse creatures that live around here,” he explained.

So when the rumors of a mountain lion began circulating around Cargill, Kammann started looking for signs of the cougar while he was working. On the morning of April 8, he saw cougar tracks in the snow while driving around the perimeter of the plant to pick up a load of corn. “They were as big as a Burger King Whopper,” he said of the tracks.

At lunchtime, he and fellow employee Kenny Beahan took a ride on the dike road to see if they could find any other signs of the cougar. That’s when they spotted a dead deer at the base of the dike. “We both took a closer look to see if our suspicion was right,” Kammann said. “There was no doubt that it was killed by a lion – no doubt at all.”

The deer looked to be a “fresh kill,” Kammann said, and that the lion had killed it, but possibly been spooked away and left it there to feed upon later. “We chatted about it and talked about cameras we’d heard about that could be strapped to a tree, but that was it,” he said.

After Kammann got home to Plymouth after work, he continued to think about how to get a picture of the big cat. He called around to some local sporting good stores and ended up buying a $250 camera. He then went back out to Port Cargill, set up the camera near the area of the deer kill and crossed his fingers.

The next day, two photos had been clicked off and after he turned in the film for processing, Kammann got his reward – pictures of the cat around the deer carcass. Kammann set the camera up again and got several more images on April 11.

As he was showing the pictures around to other employees, he found out that some of the fertilizer division workers had seen the cougar several times – both times in the area of the deer kill. “So there are eyewitnesses around here who actually saw it,” he said.

Soon, Kammann’s father’s newspaper background got to him – he knew sighting a cougar in a metropolitan area was big news. At first he called the camera manufacturer to see if they would at least pay for the camera in return for breaking the story. But that didn’t work out.

Then Kammann called up Outdoor News, a weekly outdoor publication, and told them about it. Now his story has been featured in daily and weekly newspapers throughout the state and on local television stations.

What next?

Port Cargill has put out an advisory to all employees to use caution if they see the cougar. Kammann says it has not been seen since he took the photos in early April and he’s taken his camera out of the tree.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says that cougars rarely pose a threat to humans and that cougar attacks on humans are relatively rare.

Diana Regenscheid, the DNR’s area wildlife manager for the south metro area, said in the last six or seven years, she has received reports of other cougar sightings in Scott County. The vast majority of those sightings have been in the river bottoms area, but other sightings have also been reported in Murphy Hanrehan Park west of Prior Lake, up by Deans Lake and Canterbury Downs and in Spring Lake Regional Park.

Cougars are very elusive animals, so Regenscheid does not believe they pose any threat to humans. If a person sees one, her advice is to “enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to see an animal that is so elusive.”

She also notes that the majority of the cougar sightings that have been reported to the DNR go unconfirmed and unverified because cougars don’t stay in one place for a long time and generally avoid humans. She figures she gets one or two cougar reports a year in Scott County.
 


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