Cougar struck, killed by vehicle near previous sightings in Minneapolis

A home surveillance camera captured footage of a cougar
A home surveillance camera captured footage of a cougar walking through the Lowry Hill neighborhood of Minneapolis on Monday.
Screenshot via video

Updated: 10:10 a.m.

A cougar that was spotted in Minneapolis this week apparently was struck and killed by a vehicle early Wednesday.

The Minnesota State Patrol said a cougar was struck by a vehicle driving west on Interstate 394 near Theodore Wirth Parkway around 2:15 a.m. Authorities reported the cougar died immediately in the crash. The driver was not injured. Video posted to social media showed the aftermath of the crash.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have taken possession of the cougar’s remains, and an investigation is ongoing.

The crash happened less than a mile from the previous sightings of a cougar in the Lowry Hill neighborhood of Minneapolis.

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Dan Stark, a large carnivore specialist with the Minnesota DNR, said it’s not clear if the cougar that died in the crash is the same animal seen earlier in the week. But he said that based on the proximity and timing of other sightings, and the low probability of more than one big cat roaming the area at the same time, it’s likely the same animal.

Home surveillance camera footage showed a cougar sauntering across a driveway early Monday. That video was shared widely on social media and led to speculation about where the animal might show up next, and what it was doing in the middle of an urban area.

The city of Minneapolis said late Tuesday that the cougar had also been spotted near Kenwood Park. They said it appeared the big cat may have been traveling the Cedar Lake trail system near Lake of the Isles, and that city and state officials were “working together on tracking the cougar.”

Cougar sightings are relatively rare, but do happen a few times in the state each year. Young male cougars are often pushed out of territory in their natural habitats out west, and move east. They are capable of traveling far distances. One cougar spotted in Minnesota several years ago was tracked all the way to Connecticut.

But this week’s sightings in the heart of the Twin Cities were unusual.

“It’s not something that you would expect or a place for you to expect a wild cougar to be, especially in Minnesota,” said Stark, with the Minnesota DNR. “Because we just don’t have any evidence that we have an established population here.”

Two cougars have been struck and killed by vehicles in recent years in the south metro area, one in 2022 and one in 2020.