Milwaukee residents, do not panic. That's an order from officials fielding dozens of calls since Monday, when a woman spotted what she claimed was a "lion" in her backyard on the north side of the city. A cellphone video appears to show a lion-like animal that wildlife experts reportedly said was a cougar, per CBS 58. A specialist found no evidence of a large cat, though dry conditions could make it difficult to find hair or paw prints, reports the Journal Sentinel. That hasn't calmed many. Yesterday, a white pit bull was apparently mistaken for a big cat and shot in the paw, reports Reuters; the dog should make a full recovery.
"It's ludicrous. It's not tall and not anywhere near the size of a lion," says an animal control rep. "We are trying to tell people not to panic." While the Milwaukee County Zoo's lions are all in their pens, the Department of Natural Resources notes cougars do roam Wisconsin and were spotted in nearby counties last year. Still, the animals are often confused with house cats, fishers, bobcats, dogs, foxes, coyotes, and wolves. They also don't tend to stray far into cities, especially in the summer. Police say they're taking the issue seriously and investigating each possible sighting, but officers so far "have found nothing. There isn't anything else to share at this point." Meanwhile, the "Milwaukee lion" has popped up on Twitter. (Read more cougar stories.)