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Study: Cougars again spreading across Midwest

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This photo Sept. 14, 2010 file photo, released by the Nebraska Game and Parks service, shows a cougar in a tree on a ranch in the Nebraska Panhandle near Hemingford. (AP Photo/Nebraska Game and Parks, File) This photo Sept. 14, 2010 file photo, released by the Nebraska Game and Parks service, shows a cougar in a tree on a ranch in the Nebraska Panhandle near Hemingford. (AP Photo/Nebraska Game and Parks, File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A new study suggests cougars are again spreading across the Midwest, a century after the generally reclusive predators were hunted to near extinction in much of the region.

The findings by a University of Minnesota doctoral student, a Southern Illinois University wildlife ecologist and the Cougar Network are detailed in the latest Journal of Wildlife Management.

The study showed 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest between 1990 and 2008. The animals were spotted as far south as Louisiana and Texas.

Confirmed sightings of Midwest cougars were sporadic before 1990, when there were only a couple. The study shows that number spiked to more than 30 by 2008.

Sixty-seven confirmations were in Nebraska, 31 in North Dakota, 12 each in Oklahoma and Texas, 11 in South Dakota and 10 in Missouri. Other states had single-digit tallies.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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