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Park Rapids Enterprise

Cougar seen on Wolf Lake trail camera

This is the third of three images of a large cat captured on a trail camera east of Wolf Lake Oct. 18. (Submitted photo)

By: Sarah Smith, Park Rapids Enterprise

As thousands of deer hunters fanned out across Minnesota’s woods Saturday, the buzz in tiny Wolf Lake was of a cougar captured on a trail camera two weeks ago.

Scott Koskela set up the Bushnell trail cam near an alfalfa field on his father, Leroy’s property east of Wolf Lake.

Scott, who lives in Coon Rapids, didn’t check the images on the camera until about a week ago.

On Oct. 18 at 6:48 a.m. the infrared flash captured three images of a large cat with a rope-like tail sauntering through the field.

Scott Koskela said the images that he e-mailed to friends created an immediate stir.

“I didn’t realize the copies would circulate so fast,” he said a bit sheepishly. “I haven’t had time to call the DNR.”

Koskela declined to be photographed with his camera.

“I’m really not looking for publicity for myself,” he said.

Wolf Lake photo location

One of the three images sits on the counter at the Wolf Lake Co-op.

Scott Brown, who lives nearby, said he’d seen a cougar on his property about two months ago.

“It was a small cougar, not like this one,” he said, nodding at the photo. “My kids have heard it when they’re out playing. They said it sounded like a woman screaming.”

Brown said when his father told the kids what the sound was, “they’re afraid to go outside,” he said.

If verified by the DNR, it would be the fourth large cat spotted in the state this year, said independent wildlife expert Steve Loch of Babbitt.

The DNR believes that periodic cats wander this way from the Black Hills, but there’s no evidence of a breeding population in Minnesota.

Leroy Koskela said he recalls an occasional cougar in the area, but it’s been decades, he said.

Employees at the Co-op spoke of a large cat being seen near Sebeka lately.

“I had no doubt they’re around,” Scott Koskela said. He said he’s seen tracks periodically in the woods around the area.

The trail cam captured photos of the field before and after the cat wandered through and also caught several deer in the area.

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