Since 2009, when a cougar was treed in western Wisconsin, the DNR has attempted to collect hair, blood, stool or other samples from the animals for genetic analyses.

The tests can tell the gender of the animal as well as where it likely came from.

It's possible the photos are all of the same animal, Weidenhoeft said, or there could be more than one.

Significantly, none of the images allows the sex of the animal to be determined.

The trail cam images were captured in Clark, Juneau, Marathon and Wood counties.

Another, from a late October trail cam image in central Wisconsin, is being investigated.

Missouri wildlife officials say the animal originated from the Black Hills. To get into Wisconsin from the west, of course, requires crossing rivers.

But the big cats are winter hardy and could do it over frozen water. The story of the Missouri female mountain lion has attracted the attention of wildlife biologists across the continent."That finding definitely caught our notice," Wiedenhoeft said.If you're a cougar fan cheering the species' return to Wisconsin, take heart: New evidence from Missouri shows at least one female had long-distance wanderlust.In January, the Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed the presence of a female catamount in Shannon County, in the south-central part of the state. The distance from Rapid City to Black River Falls, Wis., is "only" about 675 miles.The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began a formal review of the eastern cougar in 2011, 36 years after it was first classified as endangered.The eastern subspecies, known variously as ghost cat, catamount, puma, painter, panther, mountain lion, and cougar, originally hunted from southern Canada to the tip of South America.Although the eastern cougar has been declared extinct, the Florida and western subspecies populations have grown in recent decades, and some are expanding their range into their extinct cousins' terrain."Many people have seen cougars in the wild within the historical range of the eastern cougar," said Martin Miller, the northeast regional chief of endangered species for the USFWS, in 2011.