DAKOTA, MN (WXOW/CNN) – A farmer suspects that an animal attacked and killed some of his cattle. He says he believes that a cougar could be responsible. However, Minnesota wildlife officials aren't quite as convinced.
Andy Frickson was unloading cattle feed when he found two of his 600-pound heifers dead and another with severe leg injuries.
His wife, Darienne said they knew immediately it was an animal attack.
"It's attacking them on the neck and the hind quarters," Darienne Frickson said. "Almost like it's jumping on their back and pinning them down. It's cornering them in the shed every time. And it's not eating them. It's just killing them and leaving."
They also found unusual animal tracks but, because of drifting show, they couldn't be identified.
"They're pretty decent sized tracks, I mean, at least probably 4 inches wide," Friskson said. "And whatever it is, it's dragging its tail behind it so it's got a long tail."
Based on the tracks, the nature of the attack, and recent sightings by neighbors, the Fricksons believe a cougar killed their cattle.
"It really hurts me because this is our livelihood, and to think that our cattle are suffering, it really hurts," Frickson said.
But when the Minnesota DNR came to check it out, they couldn't conclude if it was a cougar or not.
"We really don't have a population of cougar that live in this part of the state or in Minnesota that is established," Scott Fritz of the DNR State Conservation Office said. "We have limited knowledge on cougars. So, to the best of his ability, he couldn't rule out that it wasn't and certainly couldn't say it was."
But, according to Fritz, the attack isn't characteristic of cougars.
"My understanding of cougar is they hunt for a food source," Fritz said. "Wild dogs hunt for sport. Our domestic dogs that run away during the day hunt for sport. Cougars hunt for food."
Until they find some hard evidence, Fritz says all they can do it speculate.
But since cougar sightings are so rare in the area, and they typically shy away from humans, Fritz says there's no reason for the public to worry.
"I would send my wife and kids out in the woods and not change our activities at this point," Fritz said.
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