By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jul 22, 2009 at 10:14 AM

No, it's not what you're thinking. But when I heard there was a cougar sighting on my property, I thought the exact same thing.

Last weekend, two of our friends asked to use our cabin in Wausaukee, and we happily obliged. I sent them a detailed list of how to turn on the power and the water, how to use the fireplace, and where to find the nearest supper club.

I didn't given them the number of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, however. Why would I?

So, I was surprised when I received a call on my cell phone from a ranger yesterday, asking if I lent my cabin to this couple. I immediately conjured up images of them illegally plucking lily pads from the lake, poaching bears or breaking some other sort of DNR law that would get me in big trouble.

Instead, the ranger said the couple called in a cougar sighting in my backyard.

Relieved, I jokingly asked him if he was referring to an unmarried, middle-aged woman ... or a real cougar. The ranger, not laughing, said it was a real cougar he was called to investigate.

Apparently, our friends saw this "cougar" in the light of the moon and even spotted cougar droppings in our backyard. The ranger asked if he could visit the property to take samples and investigate the "cougar poo," as he called it. I said sure.

Now, we've owned this starter cabin since 2005, and I've seen all sorts of wildlife over the years -- but no cougars. I'm guessing our friends had a little too much to drink and just saw the neighbor's dog in the distance. Maybe after enough whiskey a yellow lab could look a little like a wild cat.

Still, when they reported back that they had a nice, uneventful weekend, you think they'd mention that they spotted a cougar, called the DNR, and gave them my cell phone number in Milwaukee.

Funny, that they'd leave that out. Part of me wants to hear the full story. A bigger part of me wants to leave it alone.

Because last night I had some great fodder to call my friends, with whom we're planning a "dudes' weekend" Up North at the end of August. "Guys," I told them, "You'll be happy to know that cougars are on the loose in Wausaukee!"

Of course, I didn't mention in the voicemails that I was referring to actual cougars, and honestly, I don't believe that they're actually running amuck in Marinette County.

On the other hand, maybe our friends did spot a cougar. Before I hung up with the DNR ranger, I asked him if our dog would be OK if a cougar did, indeed, roam the Town of Wausaukee. "As long as she's not a little dog, she'll be fine," he said.

Whew. Cougar crisis, real or mistaken, averted.

Andy is the founder and co-owner of He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.