Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Texas Parks & Wildlife photo


Word came down Tuesday that a mountain lion struck and killed by a car last month near Milford, Conn., had migrated there all the way from South Dakota — a distance of some 1,500 miles.

Genetic testing revealed that the dead cat’s DNA closely matched that of mountain lions found in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Its DNA also matched hair and scat samples found in Minnesota and Wisconsin, along the route it likely took as it migrated east.

The information is fascinating, and it can be found here, on the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website.

Revelations about the Connecticut cat also raise the possibility that other mountain lions seen in the eastern United States might also have migrated in from western or midwestern states. State wildlife officials have usually been quick to claim that cats seen in the east were most likely captive animals that had been set free. In the Connecticut case, officials had a carcass that could be genetically tested.

To reach Connecticut, the mountain lion would almost certainly needed to pass through parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin. Is it that difficult to believe, then, that cats seen in West Virginia might have taken similar paths?

Granted, any attempts to migrate south of Minnesota would likely be blocked by the Mississippi River. The Connecticut cat almost certainly passed through northern Minnesota, where the Mississippi is relatively small. It seems logical that the Ohio would have presented a similar barrier, and probably prevented the Connecticut cat from migrating any farther south than it did.