Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cougars In Eastern UP Verified

cougar, mountain lion
cougar or mountain lion (photo from Michigan DNR)
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from a news release of the Michigan DNR

The Department of Natural Resources today announced it has verified two sets of cougar tracks and confirmed the location of a cougar photo in the eastern Upper Peninsula. The tracks were discovered in the DeTour and Gulliver areas, while the photo was taken near Bruce Township.

"These are the first confirmed cougar tracks in the eastern Upper Peninsula, and we appreciate the cooperation of the callers who reported the tracks and worked to keep them covered until we could respond to the scene," said Sitar, who is a member of the DNR's cougar team. "Other landowners who believe they have evidence of a cougar on their property, such as tracks or a kill site, are encouraged to contact their local DNR field office as soon as possible, which allows staff to investigate before the evidence is compromised. Without good evidence, like what we had in these two cases, verification becomes increasingly difficult."

Established cougar populations are found as close to Michigan as North and South Dakota, and transient cougars dispersing from these areas have been known to travel hundreds of miles in search of new territory. Characteristic evidence of cougars include tracks, which are about three inches long by three and a half inches wide and typically show no claw marks, or suspicious kill sites, such as deer carcasses that are largely intact and have been buried with sticks and debris.

Several unverified, but reliable reports of mountain lions in the western Lower Peninsula have come to the attention of the editor of this column.

If a citizen comes into contact with a cougar, the following behavior is recommended:
  • Stop, stand tall, pick up small children and do not run. A cougar's instinct is to chase.
  • Do not approach the animal.
  • Try to appear larger than the cougar. Never take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.
  • If the animal displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.
  • If a cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Do not play dead. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back.
Cougars are classified as an endangered species in Michigan. It is unlawful to kill, harass or otherwise harm a cougar except in the immediate defense of human life.

For more information about the recent cougar tracks and photo, call Sitar at (906) 293-5131. To learn more about cougars and how to identify their tracks, see Michigan DNR
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tony said...

Never seen a cougar. thanks for sharing

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Hi Tony- A friend and I saw one in the western UP a few years ago.

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