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Cougar shooting investigated by DNR near Worthington

submitted photo A cougar was spotted and killed Sunday night in Round Lake Township after it ran out of a grove and hid in a culvert. The big cat's body in now in the possession of the DNR.

ROUND LAKE -- Many people have heard about catching a tiger by the tail, but not many get to experience catching a cougar in their headlights.

Bruce Ihlen got one of the biggest surprises of his life Sunday night when he was finishing up chores at his brother's Round Lake Township farm around 6:30 p.m.

"I came out and saw a cougar come out of the grove and run into the ditch," Ihlen said. "Then it went into the culvert."

Ihlen had his vehicle lights trained on the spot where the cougar had entered the culvert. He called a neighbor and the two of them chased the big cat out of hiding.

"Then Daniel (Hamman) shot him," Ihlen said.

Ihlen said he has never seen a cougar in the area before, nor had Hamman.

"It was kind of a freak deal," he admitted.

His brother-in-law put the cat in a cooler, and the following day the Department of Natural Resources was contacted.

"In checking around, it was recommended we call the DNR," Ihlen said. "They came out Monday morning and took him. They have him now."

Even though the cougar was heading away from Ihlen when he spotted it, he said the encounter was still a little too close for comfort for him.

"It was just a weird thing that I caught him in my headlights," he said.

DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen says it is likely the first cougar shot by a citizen in Minnesota's "modern history." He says the 125-pound animal is being examined by the agency's wildlife biologists in Grand Rapids.