UNDATED (WJON News) -- There may be a big cat roaming around central Minnesota.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says they are aware of some social media posts about possible cougar sightings. Although they don't believe anyone has officially reported it to their office.

Given the track on social media, the cougar may be out of our area already. The first the sheriff's office heard of a possible sighting was in the New London area, then a possible sighting in the Richmond area, and the last posting was in the St. Stephen area.

The sheriff's office reminds you to stay away from the cat and be mindful of your pets.

Peter Borash is an Assistant Area Wildlife Manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  He tells WJON News he has received and confirmed (based on pictures) a couple of sightings in Stearns County in the last week, likely the same mountain lion that was confirmed by pictures near New London last week.

He says it is probably a young male that is roaming through Minnesota. They tend to cover a lot of ground (often traveling 10+ miles a day), so it is not likely they will be observed again in the same place.

Any sightings should be reported to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or local law enforcement. On the DNR's website, they say today cougars don't live in Minnesota but occasionally do roam here from the Dakotas and Nebraska.

The DNR also says that although some cougar sightings in Minnesota are accurately identified, many observations from trail cameras and tracks turn out to be cases of mistaken identity. Bobcats, house cats, coyotes, wolves, fishers, and light-colored dogs have all been mistaken as cougars.

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Back in December, a cougar that traveled from Nebraska was spotted in Minneapolis before it was struck and killed on the interstate.


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