Connecticut mountain lion ‘crossed US’ before death

Original article on BBC
See video of the report and more links below.

A mountain lion killed on a road in the US state of Connecticut had walked halfway across the US before it died in June, scientists have said.

DNA tests showed the cat was native to the Black Hills of South Dakota, 1,800 miles (2,896km) away, scientists said.

And its DNA matched that of an animal collected by chance in 2009 and 2010 in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The evidence suggests the cat had made the longest-ever recorded journey of a land mammal, scientists say.

The mountain lion, also known as a cougar or a puma, is a type of big cat native to the Americas.

The species once ranged widely, from British Columbia in Canada to Argentina and Chile, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, but its habitat in North America is now mostly limited to the western US and Canada, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a government agency dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife and habitats.

Epic journey

When it was struck by a car and killed in June in Milford, Connecticut, about 50 miles north-east of New York City, the young, lean, 140lb (64kg) male became the first mountain lion seen in that state in more than a century, said Daniel Esty, commissioner of the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“The journey of this mountain lion is a testament to the wonders of nature and the tenacity and adaptability of this species,” Mr Esty said

The continental crossing from South Dakota to Connecticut put the cat on a path south around Lake Michigan, passed Chicago, the old industrial “rust belt” cities of Ohio and western Pennsylvania and north of New York City.

According to scientists with the US Department of Agriculture, DNA taken from the mountain lion showed its genetic structure matched a population of cats native to the sparsely populated Black Hills region of South Dakota.

The DNA also matched samples taken from hair and blood in Minnesota, directly east of South Dakota, and Wisconsin, which neighbours that state to the east, in late 2009 to early 2010.

On 5 June, the lion was seen at a school in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was struck and killed on 11 June about 01:00 local time.

In addition, scientists said the cat was neither declawed nor neutered, suggesting it was not an escaped or released captive.

Related links:

DEP: Genetic Testing Reveals Mountain Lion Killed in Milford Originated in South Dakota –

Milford mountain lion came from South Dakota, possibly by way of Canada –

DEEP: Mountain Lion Killed In Milford Was From South Dakota –

Mountain lion traveled 1500 miles to CT – News8 –

Biologists say don’t get too excited about other sightings.

“We have no evidence of a population besides this single individual, we received a number of calls and sightings, but have no evidence of other mountain lions in Connecticut at this time,” said Rego.


  1. Mick

    Of course it came from somewhere. But do the DNA tests say how long ago? Was it alone? The DEP has been ignoring reported sightings in CT for years. Do they really think that finding this one is a coincidence? Isn’t it reasonable to believe that, whatever led a cougar to travel the 2000 miles to CT, might have brought enough others to actually start a small population out here? It really doesn’t sound far-fetched.

  2. Brett

    I agree Mick. Why does the deep believe this to be such a great feat for mountain lions to make it to ct? It doesnt take a genius to figure out that 1800 miles over the course of two years is only an average traveled distance of 2.5 miles per day. A human could easily do that. I have personally seen a mountain lion crossing i-95 near stonington ct. I am very confident in what i saw. The animal was at least a 150 pounds with a long tail and had the low stance and running style of a cat. It had tan coloring just as the one in the picture and this was several months ago. I completely believe the stories people are telling, especially after seeing one myself. I am sure we will have more sightings in the future. Nature will not be contained.

  3. Adam

    How did the animal cross dozens of interstates and the Hudson River? Impossible.

  4. Brett

    Adam, first of all you better study up some geography. The cat wouldnt have to go anywhere near the hudson to get from milford to stonington. The mountain lion would have to cross the ct river which is only a couple hundred feed wide in areas. Fyi mountain lions are known to be good swimmers and have been documented crossing the mississippi river. Look it up.

    Second and most important, i am by no means claiming this to be the same cat, just saying that i have seen a mountain lion crossing i-95 near stonington. Either way u look at it, the cat that was killed in milford would have had to cross many interstates and bodies of water to get here, so whats ur point?

  5. annbojan46

    Today Me and my husband took a scenic ride up to Kent Falls and on the way up there around 1:00 in the afternoon a big cat leaped across the road. I was much bigger than a bobcat and with a long tail. Looked like a young mountain lion but looked more on the grey side.

  6. Mike

    Brett, I think Adam was referring to the journey from South Dakota to CT.

  7. karen

    my family and i were driving on 95 south near stonington july 28 when we also saw a big mountian lion cross right in front of us. so there are definitely more than one in that area.

  8. Brett

    Thank you Karen. Im glad im not the only one who has seen one around here. Adam if thats what you meant then understand the mountain lion mostlikely made it here via canada so it was able to avoid the hudson or at least cross at a very narrow section. During the winter it would also be frozen up north, which would make it even easier. Sorry about the confusion.

  9. Gene

    I think what DEEP did was use genetic markers that indicate this cat is related to cats in SD and used that to make their story. I have seen no DNA results nor has anyone else, a simple power point and canned conference call to the press is not scientific.

    This cat came from somewhere, it is related to SD cats, and that is all their tests prove or they would post the actual DNA. Besides if this cat was in Fairfield and shortly after hit in Milford it is a magic cat, it would either be soaking wet from swimming or been seen on the hiway as it traveled to Milford.


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