2012 : Cougars on the Prowl, But Still Elusive

June 1, 2018 all-day

Cougar Sightings:   Does Michigan have resident cougars or not?   Are they all tourists as the Department of Natural Resources argues?

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* This photo was captured by a Michigan Wildlife Conservancy trail cam in southern Marquette County on June 1, 2012 and is the clearest photo taken of a cougar in Michigan to date.  (Found Michigan, July 20, 2012.)

Michigan Newswire announced that the Department of Natural Resources and Environment established a Cougar Website on October 27, 2006.  It still exists.

* A trail camera snapped a blurry photo May 26, 2010 near Wallace in the central Upper Peninsula, about 15 miles north of Marinette, Wis.  For the full article, see “DNRE releases photo of UP cougar”, Lansing State Journal, June 22, 2010.

* A cougar with a radio collar and ear tag was filmed in Ontonagon County, Michigan, indicating it had migrated there from a western state such as the Dakotas.  For the full article, see Howard Myerson, “Officials confirm cougar in Upper Peninsula’s Ontonagon County (video)”, Grand Rapids Press via MLive, September 13, 2011.

* There are two new confirmed cougar sightings in the eastern part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. One photo was taken by a camera phone in late October on private property in Chippewa County’s Raber Township. The site is about 30 miles south-southeast of Sault Ste. Marie. The second photo was taken in early November by a trail camera on public land in Mackinac County’s Garfield Township.  or the full article, see “2 cougar sightings confirmed in Michigan’s U.P.”, Detroit Free Press, November 10, 2014.

* The Michigan Department of Natural Resources released Thursday video footage of a male cougar at a deer kill site in Mackinac County.  The 60-second clip posted to YouTube Thursday shows the cougar repeatedly returning to the site to eat a deer. The video was provided by hunters from Remus who discovered the deer kill site. The hunters set up a trail cam which captured the footage on Dec. 10, 2014 and Dec. 11, 2014.   For the full article and video, see Candice Williams, “DNR releases footage of cougar sighting”, Detroit News, February 19, 2015.  For another, see Kelsey Pence, “DNR confirms cougar video in Mackinac County”, Detroit Free Press, February 19, 2015.

Cougar closeup, courtesy of wikipedia commons

* On June 21, 2017, a Haslett resident took a photograph of an animal from his vehicle in Bath Township in Clinton County near the DNR’s Rose Lake State Wildlife Area. The individual reported that he spotted a large cat in his headlights as the animal attempted to cross a road. He captured the photograph as the cougar turned back from the road into an area of thick vegetation.  The picture was made available to the DNR June 26. A field investigation ensued. DNR biologist Chad Fedewa and biologists from the DNR’s Cougar Team reviewed the photo and visited the site where it was taken, determining that the animal in the photo was a cougar.

Cougars originally were native to Michigan, but were extirpated from Michigan around the turn of the century. The last time a wild cougar was legally taken in the state was near Newberry in 1906. Over the past few years, numerous cougar reports have been received from various locations throughout Michigan. Until this time, all confirmed sightings or tracks have been in the Upper Peninsula. Since 2008 a total of 36 cougar sightings have been documented in Michigan’s U.P. To date, the DNR has not confirmed a breeding population of cougars in Michigan.

The odds of encountering a cougar in the wild are very small, and attacks on humans are extremely rare. Should you encounter a cougar:
• Face the animal and do not act submissive. Stand tall, wave your arms and talk in a loud voice.
• Never run from a cougar or other large carnivore. If children are present, pick them up so they cannot run.
• Do not crouch and get on all fours.
• If attacked, fight back with whatever is available. DO NOT play dead.
• Report the encounter to local authorities and the DNR as soon as possible.

Source : “DNR confirms cougar sighting in Clinton County“, WILX (Channel 10 Lansing), June 29, 2017.

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