NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While enjoying the great outdoors this summer, you could be joined by some unexpected critters.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reported there is evidence cougars and alligators are expanding their territories into Tennessee.
While these animals do not cause an immediate threat, wildlife experts are keeping a close eye on their migration habits.
The agency cited evidence of the animals in the Volunteer State in its 2020-2021 hunting and trapping guide.
“There is evidence cougars and alligators are expanding their territories into Tennessee. Species expanding their ranges into Tennessee are protected and may not be taken until a hunting season is proclaimed. Alligators and cougars are protected by state laws in Tennessee.”
Cougars had not been seen in Tennessee since the early 1900s until one was spotted on a Humphreys County trail camera in 2016.
Joy Sweaney, a wildlife biologist with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency explained that with the help of trail cameras set up by hunters, they were able to confirm the animal’s presence.
“In 2015, we had a cougar show up that we were able to confirm with hard evidence was actually a cougar and was actually in our state” explained Sweaney. “And so, over the course of the next year, pretty much from September 2015 to September 2016, there were 10 cougar sightings that we were able to verify, and we believe that that was the one same cougar.”