A mountain lion hit and killed by a car in Milford, Conn., last month was a long way from home, most likely the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Biologists used DNA sampling and other physical evidence to link the 140-pound male cat to a journey of nearly 2,000 miles. The AP reports:
"Genetic testing showed the cat had the same genetic structure of the mountain lion population in South Dakota's Black Hills region. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Wildlife Genetics Laboratory in Missoula, Mont., matched the DNA with samples collected from a cat that was spotted in eastern Minnesota near Minneapolis and in northern Wisconsin from late 2009 through early 2010."
The big cat was also seen in Greenwich, Conn., before it was killed, the first confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in the state since 1880, according to the Hartford Courant. The paper also notes that the animal picked up a name along its journey:
"Nicknamed the St. Croix mountain lion during his time in Wisconsin, the cat was definitively linked to four sites in the two states through genetic testing of scat, blood and hair found in the snow during late 2009 and early 2010. He also was captured on video by trail cameras. Additional mountain lion sightings were confirmed at eight other sites in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but could not be linked to the same animal."
Update at 5:16 p.m. ET:
On All Things Considered, Robert Siegel talked with Kristy Pilgrim, laboratory supervisor for the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Montana, which carried out the DNA testing and analysis that determined the cat's origin. You can listen to the audio via the player at the top of this post.