Wednesday, November 12, 2008

MINNESOTA NEWS: Cougars Join Deer Hunt This Season

CULVER, MINN. -- Two deer hunters waited a few minutes to track a doe they shot northwest of Duluth -- only to find two hungry cougars tearing away at their kill.

It took Ted Kline and Ron Smith only about 30 minutes to reach their doe on Monday. In that time, Kline estimates the cougars ate about a third of the usable meat.

"When we got there, they had both been eating on it. We scared them off, but they kept circling us. They didn't want to leave," said Kline, who owns the land where the two were hunting along the Artichoke River, about 25 miles northwest of Duluth.

The hunters called for help so two men could drag out the deer while Kline kept his hands on his rifle. "The chunks they tore off that doe were huge. The claw marks were huge," he said.

Photos of the carcass show that the deer's neck, rear leg and abdomen were mauled. Kline said it appeared the cats attacked the deer before it died.

Kline says the animals had long tails and were 3 feet long. He says they weren't wolves, dogs or bobcats.

Kline and Smith reported their story to a conservation officer from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"We probably get 200 cougar reports each year ... but most turn out to be bobcats or house cats or yellow dogs," said John Erb, DNR forest wildlife biologist in Grand Rapids. "We do get confirmation on occasion. We had two confirmed last year, including one near Floodwood, but they are very, very rare. And for there to be two cougars together in one spot, that would be the first time in Minnesota probably in 75 years."

While cougar sightings are somewhat common in the area, it's unclear whether the animals are former pets or part of a small population of wild cougars. The closest established population of cougars is in the western Dakotas.

The large cats are protected in Minnesota and can't be shot, although law enforcement officers can put down an animal if they determine it may be a threat to people.

Source: Star Tribune

Monday, November 10, 2008

INDIANA NEWS: Some State Parks to Close for Deer Hunt

Seventeen Indiana state parks will be closed for a pair of Monday-Tuesday periods while hunters reduce the deer population.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the parks will close Nov. 17-18 and Dec. 1-2.

The hunters invited to the parks were selected in September from a pool of applicants.

DNR biologists say reducing the deer herd in the parks helps protect endangered plants.

The parks that will be closed are Brown County, Chain O'Lakes, Charlestown, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick's Creek, Ouabache (WAH'-bash), Pokagon (poh-KAY'-gun), Shades, Spring Mill, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Whitewater Memorial, Fort Harrison and Clifty Falls.

Source: Chicago Tribune