OSAKIS, Minn. -- With glowing eyes, the curious creature looked directly at the camera and crept forward slowly with a slinky gait.

Where it ventured from there remains a mystery.

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A cougar captured on trail-camera video has people buzzing about where it came from and what it was doing in the area.

It was on Jerry Kuhlman's property that the infrared camera caught the 20 seconds of video.

"I was shocked when I saw it," he said. "The proof is in the pudding that they're out there."

The Kuhlmans own 320 acres near Osakis, about two miles south of Interstate 94. That's about 10 miles southeast of Alexandria.

The cougar, also known as a mountain lion, was caught on camera Nov. 20 at 9:17 p.m., two days before Thanksgiving.

Kuhlman reviewed the trail-cam footage the day after Thanksgiving.

"We went out on a hayride on Thanksgiving Day with a bunch of kids and after I saw the video I was thinking maybe I should have been carrying a weapon," he said.

"I've walked around out there a lot without a firearm but I don't think I'll be doing that anymore. I'll be a little more cautious," Kuhlman said.

Kuhlman said he has spotted plenty of deer on his trail camera along with wolves and coyotes, but never a cougar.

The camera records 30-second segments when motion is detected. In the video, the cougar slowly stalks toward the camera and it stops recording just as the big cat is in mid-stride, approaching the camera.

Kuhlman said he wishes he knew what happened next.

Jeff Johanson, the Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in the Osakis area, said he usually receives "a couple of reports of possible cougar sightings each year, but usually the claims are not able to be substantiated.

Among other substantiated cougar sightings in Minnesota and Wisconsin in recent years:

  • A cougar was shot and killed in rural Jackson County, in southern Minnesota, in November 2011. The man who shot the cougar pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for killing a protected animal when it did not pose a threat.
  • Trail camera photographs taken in northern Douglas County and Iron County in Wisconsin in the summer of 2011 appeared to show a collared cougar.
  • A cougar was spotted and confirmed with DNA evidence in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in late 2009 and early 2010 before moving farther east. It showed up dead in June 2011, hit by an SUV in Connecticut.
  • A cougar was hit and killed by a car near Bemidji in September 2009.
  • A team that included Wisconsin DNR biologists treed and photographed a cougar near Spooner in March 2009, but it managed to elude its trackers.
  • A cougar was photographed by a trail camera north of Floodwood in August 2007.

    The News Tribune contributed to this report. The Echo Press and the News Tribune are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.