DAKOTA, Minn. (WXOW) - Last Saturday, 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 on the hind quarters," said Darienne. "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 snow they couldn't be identified.
"They're pretty decent sized tracks, I mean, at least probably 4" wide," said Darienne. "And whatever it is, it's dragging its tail behind it so it's got a long tail."
Based on these tracks, the nature of the attack, and recent sightings by neighbors, the Fricksons believe a cougar killed their cattle. Darienne said the situation was even more difficult because the animals were killed without a purpose.
"My first reaction was ‘okay, it's been a harsh winter, something needs to eat,'" said Darienne. "And, you know, I guess I could see if in the wild it's chasing a deer or something like that, they got a chance to run. Where these poor heifers, they don't have a chance. They're all penned up. It really hurts me because this is our livelihood. And to think that our cattle are suffering it really hurts."
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," said Scott Fritz, DNR State Conservation Officer. "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," said Fritz. "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 is speculate. But since cougar sightings are so rare here and they typically shy away from humans he says there's no reason for the public to worry.
"I would send my wife and kids out in the woods," said Fritz, "and not change out activities at this point."
Fritz said this is the first report they've had like this, and hopes someone can get concrete evidence, like a photo, if there is a cougar in the area.
The Fricksons said they're just concerned about their neighbors and the safety of their pets and cattle.
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