Over the weekend, St. Paul police officers responded to a mountain lion sighting on Grand Avenue -- but while the witness tells FOX 9 News he's sure of what he saw, the DNR remains a little skeptical.
Police in the state's Capitol city are looking for a cat, but it's not the kind anyone might expect in the metro.
"It pretty much pounced out from those bushes, got the cat in the first parking space there and then calmly walked behind the rug gallery," Jacob Todd told FOX 9 News.
Todd was with his girlfriend, Abby Marcus, on Friday night when they stepped out on the patio for a late-night snack. That's when they witnessed something that is usually only seen in wildlife documentaries.
"We heard the shrill shriek of a residential cat from over there," Todd recalled. "Saw it being carried off, pretty much engulfed, in the mouth of what appeared to be a mountain lion."
Capt. Greg Salo, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told FOX 9 News the agency is often asked to investigate reports of mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas. Most come from blurry pictures taken by game or trail cameras.
"We get these calls. Every year, we get one or two of them," Salo said. "More times than not, they're not a cougar."
Yet, Todd spent time doing search and rescue in Idaho and he says he knows what he saw.
"Black-tipped tail, the unmistakable muscular legs, the long body with the pointy ears," he described.
Peggy Callahan, with the Wildlife Science Center, said cougars are efficient, solitary predators that have been tracked across the country.
"I know that there are native mountain lions -- cougars -- in Minnesota, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility," she said. "Actually, the presence of a cat in its mouth increases the possibility, in my opinion, that it was."
Both Todd and Marcus told FOX 9 News they're certain of what they saw -- and also what they heard.
"It ran out from under the tree. I heard the scream, saw it run off with something in its mouth, and that was that," Marcus said.
Although their midnight snack was certainly interrupted by something else's, the couple said they aren't terribly concerned.
"As surprised as I was, I wasn't taken aback," Todd said. "I was just like, 'Nature. Look at that.'"
Since 2007, there have been 14 confirmed mountain lions spotted in Minnesota, but most of the time, the reports don't pan out and the encounters are brief. That said, scientists did track a cougar from the black hills of South Dakota through the Twin Cities and all the way to the East Coast in 2009. It was eventually hit by a car just 70 miles from New York City.
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