Cougar in the Coulee?!

We had some excitement this week at our house! On Wednesday, my husband called me to “quick come here and bring your camera” while he was getting ready for work. When I met him in our bedroom, I could see what he was excited about! There was a large black animal in the dry creek bed by our house.  It was large! Both of us thought it was a cougar – or black panther! I know, I know. It is Wisconsin. We might see an occasional cougar trotting through our forests and valleys but this animal was totally black. And, very large.  Its tail was very long.  The cat moved using large back haunches and paws that seemed as big as my closed fist! We were sure we were seeing an exotic animal in the coulee right next to our house!


Many photos were shot. I recently obtained a 600mm telephoto lens for our son’s sporting events and was able to zoom in close enough to get a good look at this beautiful, yet, somewhat scary animal.

Soon, my husband left for work. We were both excited at what we thought we saw. I posted photos to FaceBook and sent my husband some to his email so he could show his co-workers the “cougar”! When our teenage boys arrived home from school, I proudly showed each of them the photos on my computer. Both laughed! “Mom”, my 18-year-old stated, “that’s a house cat.”


“No! It was really big! Too big to be a house cat,” I told him. “Its tail was really long, too! And, the haunches!”  He just laughed.

I am a great lover of wildlife. Just days before I was exclaiming over a hawk’s wingspan as he glided over our backyard into the same coulee in which we saw the large cat. And, the week before that, it was a fox trotting through the same dry creek bed that I caught on camera. In our house, I get teased a lot for my exclamation of wonder about our natural world. This was no different.

That night, I sent five photos to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Website (DNR) that asks citizens to report large mammal sightings. The laughter continued but my husband had co-workers that hunt agreed with him that it was a cougar and I experienced the same from some of my FaceBook friends. There was amazement, laugher, and maybe, a little fear, too!

We kept the garage doors down all day on Wednesday. I did not want to be met in the garage by a hungry cat, that’s for sure!

By Thursday morning I had a response from the DNR warden. It was, in fact………..a house cat I had caught on camera! Really? We were so sure it was bigger. My husbands’ response was “baloney” (Well, not that exact word!) Later on Thursday, a black cat returned to the coulee’s dry creek bed. My eldest son was home and agreed with his brothers. It looked like a house cat to him, and really, not a very big one in his opinion. I had to agree. This cat looked very similar to the other cat but was smaller and the tail was shorter. Could it be different? Could it be the same but our perceptions of the cougar-cat on Wednesday fed our excitement?  Maybe, to both questions.

On top of it all, when in the grocery store on Thursday afternoon, we happened to see this “Puma Kola” made by a gourmet soda drink company, Sprecker’s.  There was no question that was coming home with us ……. It was just too funny!

In any case, we have had a lot of fun with this experience at our house this week. And, I think we provided some entertainment for our friends as well! One messaged me that she loved the sense of adventure and, whether cat or cougar, I should keep posting! I think I will —- after all, everyone needs a good laugh!


23 thoughts

  1. I was already chucking here, and then I got to the Puma Kola, and it become more like a laugh out loud. This is wonderfully paced and so entertainingly written. My mom is the one in our family who is constantly having unusual nature sightings. We still laugh about the time she saw a lion in our suburban neighborhood (well, I laugh while she adamantly insists that she DID see a lion!). But I have to say, she does see more things than I tend to spot, and I do find her enthusiasm endearing. She gets so excited about a flock of wild turkeys that she will actually get in the car and go for a drive to see them if I text her that they’re out and about. Even though she’s seen them a million times before. (And for the record, I think the top photo looks bigger than a housecat!)

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  2. Hahaha! I love this post. I love the cougar…panther…cat. I love how you start with the excitement and the pictures. Even though you knew the outcome, I completely believed you. And I love that you brought home the Puma Kola in the end. Such a fun slice.

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  3. This is so funny! I thought maybe you were headed to the conclusion of house cat. We have a big cat. He’s the same size as our dog. We got a text from a neighbor that they say a cougar near our house. I think it was our cat. Ha!


  4. This is hysterical! I just love the whole experience. I remember years ago someone in our town was sure they saw a bear in the woods while walking their dog. It turned out to be a large black dog. We were all so excited (and scared) for a few days. There were pictures and all!

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  5. Oh, my goodness, I loved this. I was so impressed you actually got a picture of the “cougar.” I live in the country as well, and we often are fascinated by the animals that rove through our backyard from time to time. We often find ourselves asking about these quick glimpses. Coyote? Wolf (ha!)? Fox? Dog? Heron? Owl? Deer? We’ve seen them all.

    There used to be a rumor that a bobcat roamed in the woods near our house. People talked about being sure they had seen it. We often swore we heard it as we walked uninhabited rural roads. I was never able to get photo proof.

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