NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received a photo of what appears to be a cougar (mountain lion) taken on a trail camera on private land in Obion County in West Tennessee.

The photo is being analyzed by photo/graphics experts. It was taken shortly after 8 p.m. on the evening of Sept. 20. The trail camera date was incorrect stating it was taken on Sept. 19. An investigation to solidly confirm the sighting is ongoing, although a TWRA official was unable to recover any tracks, hair or other physical evidence.

Like all wildlife species in Tennessee, cougars are classified as a protected species which cannot be hunted or killed until a hunting or trapping season is established by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, the governing body of the TWRA. States with breeding populations of western mountain lions are Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas. There have been documented sightings of cougars in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Kansas. Biologists believe these sightings were young males leaving their home ranges in search of new territory. These males have been known to travel hundreds of miles.

TWRA biologists assure Tennesseans that in the event of a confirmation of one animal it does not mean there is an established population. A cougar sighting could easily be attributed to a transient young male or an illegal release of a captive animal. - See more at: