Saint Mary’s University (SMU) issued a mass warning to its students and staff this week after a mountain lion was spotted on the campus blufflands. At 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, a coach reported seeing the big cat descending a steep “goat prairie” on the north end of Yon’s Valley on the edge the SMU campus. From the far side of the valley, the coach saw the large, tan cat slink through the rocky open space and disappear into the woods.
The coach “said he knew what he saw,” said SMU Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communication Nick Lemmer. “Any sighting has to be taken seriously, and the safety of our students, staff, and visitors is always of top priority.”
The university warned students to use caution and not to go into the bluffs alone.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there is no “viable breeding population” of mountain lions in Minnesota, though sightings have been reported.
“If present in Minnesota, mountain lions are most likely inhabiting remote, heavily forested areas, although confirmed reports have also come from agricultural areas,” the DNR said.
Male mountain lions average around 140 pounds and can be six and a half feet long. The elusive creatures hunt large game such as deer, mostly at night, dusk, and dawn.
Mountain lions typically avoid human contact, though attacks on humans have occurred.