Yes, there are cougars in Michigan

A few years ago, it would have taken an act of God for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to admit cougars exist in the state.

Two weeks ago, DNR officials released a trail camera photograph of a cougar in Delta County. The sighting, confirmed by DNR officials as that of a cougar, marked the 40th substantiated sighting since 2008.

DNR officials are quick to point out that it’s unknown whether that means there are 40 separate cougars or fewer, with perhaps the same cougar being verified several times.

The fact is, however, DNR officials now agree cougars do roam through Michigan.

To date, all but one of the cougars have been confirmed in the Upper Peninsula. The sighting in the Lower Peninsula was in Clinton County, about 13 miles northeast of Lansing.

Michigan cougars remain a mystery to DNR biologists.

For instance, there is no conclusive evidence of a breeding population in the state. Confirmations thus far have come from trail cameras, tracks, or scat. Two poached male cougars that the DNR gained access to for tissue samples revealed that the cats came from a population found generally in South Dakota, Wyoming, and northwest Nebraska.

It is speculated that, perhaps, the cougars were looking to expand their territory.

The two trail camera sightings this summer are crystal clear and leave no doubt a cougar was walking by at the time of the photograph.

We think it’s safe to say cougars have become a new animal in Michigan that DNR officials will be monitoring closely in the years ahead.

(THE ALPENA NEWS)