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  • Writer's picturePatrick Durkin

Update: Necropsy Finds Bow-Killed Wisconsin Cougar was Healthy

A necropsy on the cougar killed in mid-November by a bowhunter in Wisconsin’s Buffalo County found the cat was healthy, well fed and carrying good fat reserves, according to the state’s large-carnivore specialist.

“It had eaten within the past day and knew how to make a living,” said Randy Johnson of the Department of Natural Resources. Johnson said the Nov. 30 necropsy on the 128-pound male cougar was led by state wildlife veterinarian Lindsey Long. Johnson said the necropsy found no internal or external cysts or parasites, and no indications of disease or injuries. He also said the cougar had all of its toes, and showed no frostbite scars on its ears or tail-tip.

When laid out and measured from nose to tail-tip, the cougar stretched 6 feet, 9 inches, Johnson said. Its stomach was at least half-full, containing about 3 pounds of deer tissues and bone fragments. “Road-kills are common in Wisconsin, and we have no way of knowing whether it killed the deer or was scavenging it,” Johnson said.

The necropsy team extracted two teeth from the cougar for laboratory analysis and aging. DNR biologists estimate the cat was 2 years old, and think it dispersed from South Dakota’s Black Hills. Genetic tests on scat and hair samples left by previous cougars in Wisconsin have all traced to the Black Hills, Johnson said. None were domestically raised. The DNR expects the laboratory tests will take weeks to pinpoint the cougar’s age and origins.

Johnson said the necropsy confirmed the cougar died from the arrow wound, which matched the description the bowhunter — Ben Karasch of Eau Claire — told DNR investigators. Karasch arrowed the cougar after it stalked within 13 yards of his ladder stand near dusk Nov. 11. His arrow, tipped with a 2-blade Rage Trypan broadhead, entered atop the cougar’s right shoulder, passed through the lungs, diaphragm and stomach, and stopped beneath the hide below.

“The only bones it penetrated were the ribs,” Johnson said. “It probably passed through 2 to 3 feet of tissue, and didn’t exit the body.”

Johnson said the DNR removed the cougar’s pelt and skull, and sent both to a taxidermist to create a mount for public display and educational programs. The University of Wisconsin’s zoological museum in Madison kept the rest of the skeleton.

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