A new study suggests mountain lions or as they are also called, cougars are again spreading across the Midwest a century after the generally reclusive predators were hunted to near extinction in much of the region.
The findings by a University of Minnesota doctoral student, a Southern Illinois University wildlife ecologist and the Cougar Network are detailed in the latest Journal of Wildlife Management.
The study showed 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest and as far south of Texas between 1990 and 2008.
Confirmed sightings of Midwest mountain lions were sporadic before 1990, when there were only a couple. The study shows that number spiked to more than 30 by 2008.
Sixty-seven confirmations were in Nebraska, 31 in North Dakota, 12 each in Oklahoma and Texas, 11 in South Dakota and 10 in Missouri. Other states had single-digit tallies.
A cougar or mountain lion found in a tree in a north Tulsa neighborhood in April 2011 was relocated from the Tulsa Zoo to the Ralph Mitchell Zoo in Independence, Kansas back in January.
The mountain lion was captured in a Tulsa neighborhood on April 23, 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.