29. For decades there have been sightings of mountain lions in Wisconsin, from across the state. In fact, one that roamed eastward from the Dakotas was actually killed outside of Chicago last January.
Finally, there is proof. Last week DNR Biologists were contacted with a report of a treed cougar. While they were not able to capture it, a few photographs (one to the right) were taken. It is hoped that the animal will be temporarily captured to obtain a DNA test and fit the animal with a radio collar.
Mountain lions were native to Wisconsin, but were eliminated shortly after 1900. This is part of their native range and habitat, and do belong here as part of the natural ecosystem.
This article is running on the two TV stations in Duluth:
The official announcement was released by the Wisconsin DNR (WDNR) and can be found (here).
A good source of information concerning mountain lions, with pictures, can be found on the UW - Stevens Point website (here). They also mention the historical range of cougars in Wisconsin:
Prior to 1870 the mountain lion occurred throughout most of the state, especially in valleys and tributaries of the Mississippi and Fox River (Jackson 1961). Most of the records came from areas around Lake Winnebago and from valleys of the Chippewa and St. Croix Rivers (Schorger 1982).
February was wet on Maple Hill.
Liquid precipitation added up to 147% of average, at 1.12".
Snow totaled 14.7" in February, surpassing last February by almost four inches.
After a dry fall across most of Wisconsin (see my previous post), I will gladly take any extra moisture. With some luck this spring, we'll have a healthy snow melt and adequate precipitation to keep us from slipping further into drought conditions.
My snow numbers by the month.
This graph (to the right) shows monthly snow totals from last winter (light blue) with totals from this winter.
December has been the snowiest month both years, with this past December having the highest monthly total of any month.
After a lull around February, the end of April tends to be a snowy month too.
Daily snow depth and total accumulations.
Again, I've taken data from this winter and put it into a graph (to the left) with last winter's data.
The blue lines show total snow accumulation, the dash line is last winter.
The redish lines show daily measured snow depth, the dash line is last winter's numbers.
Monthly liquid numbers.
There have been some interesting patters emerging as I continue taking precipitation measurements here on Maple Hill.
January and February are climatologically dry months across Wisconsin. The dry and cold air does not provide efficient conditions for heavy snowfall.
Otherwise, the summer months should be the wettest of the year.
I've taken the average monthly precipitation numbers from the nearest climatological reporting station (10 miles south) and graphed that information as a black line (above).
On top of that I have added in precipitation from 2007 (light blue), 2008 (magenta), and now 2009 (yellow).
It appears that there is a decrease in precipitation in the summer months, on Maple Hill, when climatologically there should be a peak.
As an example, I've taken two yearly precipitation graphs (to the left) from two locations representative of the western Great Lake region - Duluth and Minneapolis - from WeatherOnline.
Both charts clearly display a peak in the months of June, July, and August; while they show December, January, and February as the driest months.
The last two years on Maple Hill have not followed this trend, instead, July and August are remarkably lower than the projected climatological peak.
The cause of this? I have no idea. It may be 'normal' for the Bayfield Peninsula. Lake Superior may influence the warm months by keeping the air chilled and stable. Or perhaps this is result of a shift in climate. I do not have enough information to lean one way or another, but I'll keep searching.