MARINETTE — The City of Marinette has a confirmed cougar sighting.

One sighting has been confirmed by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources last week. Caroline Ward, wildlife biologist, said she had confirmed the sighting herself after looking at an image of the cougar, which was caught on a trail cam at a residence on Van Cleve Avenue, Aug. 23.

This is the only sighting of the cougar in Marinette verified by the DNR.

In the past, cougars were native to Wisconsin but were eliminated in 1910; however, there have been sighting of the animal within the state over the past few years, Ward explained.

“In the late 1800s and early 1900s, farmers thought the best way to protect their livestock was to eliminate all large predators,” she said. “Thankfully, many of them are returning. We have healthy bear and wolf populations and we’re now having cougar sightings.”

This is the third confirmed cougar sighting in Marinette County since 2014 and the fourth sighting in Wisconsin this year.

However, sightings of cougars in recent years are not proof that the once-native animal is returning to the state of Wisconsin. The only confirmed sightings have been of adult male cougars, which alone is not proof that the population is returning. For this, there needs to be confirmed sightings of an adult female cougar with kittens, which there has not been.

Ward said the DNR believes the cougars are breeding males coming from the Black Hills area of South Dakota.

Ward said it may be surprisingly to a lot of people, but many wild animals are often found in urban areas.

“People don’t realize how much wildlife they are co-existing with,” Ward said. Wildlife will often come out in urban areas at night, unknown to humans who live in those neighborhoods. She added with cougars specifically, there are cities in California where they live in the green spaces between urban areas.

Ward said the cougars sighted in the area are not immediate threat to people of Marinette.

“These creatures do not want to be seen, they don’t want to be noticed by you,” Ward said. “These animals are most active at dawn and dusk when humans are least active.”

Ward said humans are not part of a cougar’s food, so a cougar is unlikely to attack one unprovoked.

“Any wild animal will defend itself if attacked or cornered, but the cougar will not stalk or hunt a human,” she said.

This is the only sighting confirmed in the City of Marinette and if more are confirmed later, it will be almost impossible to know if it is the same cougar.

“Cougars have no distinguishing markers which make them very difficult to identify individuals,” she said. The cougar spotted in Marinette is not being tracked by the DNR.

It is likely that the cougar has already left the area. Cougars travel long distances and will quickly make their way through a state or two, Ward explained.

“Hopefully, it moved out of the area and is happily on its way,” she added.