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DNR: Bemidji cougar's origin is still unknown

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

DNA testing continues on a young male cougar killed by a car Sept. 18 on Carr Lake Road in Bemidji, but early indications are that the cat was not one in the region that had been documented.

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"The DNA did not match any other cougar in the database so all that tells us is it's not a cougar somebody else already detected as part of a study," said Minnesota Department of Natural Resources furbearer specialist John Erb.

The cat was taken for study to the forest wildlife research station in Grand Rapids.

"We have some partial information from necropsying the animal but we have only partial DNA results back," Erb said, adding that the DNR didn't have information yet about whether the cat's DNA matches that of a South Dakota or that of a Colorado population of cats.

It is believed that sub-adult "dispersers" occasionally roam out of the Black Hills eastward looking for females, ousted from their prides by dominant males, Erb said. Whether the 114-pound Bemidji cougar was one of those cats is still being determined.

But Erb said while DNA testing cannot usually determine conclusively if a cougar is captive or wild, he believes the Bemidji cougar was not raised domestically.

Sarah Smith is a reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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