Cougars, also known as Mountain Lions or Pumas, are native to Tennessee, but there were no sightings of cougars from the early 1900's until recently.
Since September of 2015, there have been a handful of cougar sightings in Tennessee, mostly in the area west of Nashville such as Hohenwald, but residents in Mt. Juliet reported what they thought was a cougar to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
"They're kind of hazy and a little bit blurry," Wendy House of Mt. Juliet said about the photos she took of the suspected cougar. "It's hard to tell how big the cat was (from the pictures)."
House took the photos from the windows looking into her backyard last Friday. The area is filled with trees and plenty of wildlife, such as deer, foxes, and even bobcats, but the large cat she spotted last week was unlike any animal she'd seen in her backyard before.
"Whether it's a cougar, I don't know. I'm not a specialist, but I know what I saw was similar to what a cougar looks like," House said.
The cat ran off and hadn't been seen since, but other residents in the area had reported seeing something similar, and one woman claimed that she believed a cougar could have been responsible for killing one of her cows on her farm.
"More so than not, people said, 'Oh yes, I have seen something similar,'" House recalled.
It's possible that a cougar could have been in Mt. Juliet as TWRA has confirmed numerous cougar sightings in Tennessee, but none have been east of Nashville.
"Cougars are native to Tennessee, they've just been extirpated for quite some time," Dr. Russ Skoglund, a TWRA wildlife manager, said.
After examining the photo and taking measurements in House's backyard, Skoglund came to the conclusion that he believes the cat in the photo is either a large house cat or some other kind of exotic cat that got out of containment. "In my professional opinion, it is not a cougar."
To investigate further, House put up trail cameras in the woods just beyond her yard in hopes of catching a better photo of the creature, but due to the fact that cougars like to travel, even if the creature seen was a cougar, it may not return to the area in the future.
To find out more information about cougars in Tennessee, you can visit TWRA's website (https://www.tn.gov/twra/article/cougars-in-tennessee), and to see the most recent sightings in Tennessee, you can examine the map compiled by TWRA. (http://twra.maps.arcgis.com/apps/StoryMapBasic/index.html?appid=800fe4e965594896ad6200e5ed1ccbab)