By Craig McMorris, TV5 Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
There's a cougar prowling Michigan's Ontonagon County. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the animal was captured on a trail camera on private property earlier this month. It was walking directly toward the front of the camera and clearly showed an ear tag and a radio collar.
"We are pleased that the individuals that caught this animal on video reported it promptly to the DNR and allowed us to verify the location of the camera," said Adam Bump, a wildlife biologist with the DNR's Cougar Team. "It is a very interesting sighting given the fact that the cougar has been radio-collared and ear-tagged."
The DNR is in the process of tracking down where the cougar might be from, and is contacting other states with known cougar populations. Only western states currently have cougars collared for research projects, so it is possible that the animal traveled a great distance to reach the Upper Peninsula.
Cougars, also known as mountain lions and pumas, originally were native to Michigan but were thought to have been driven from the area around the turn of the last century. The last known wild cougar taken in Michigan was killed near Newberry in 1906. However, sightings are regularly reported and although verification is often difficult, the DNR has verified two sets of cougar tracks and confirmed the location of a cougar photo in the eastern Upper Peninsula in 2009 and several sets of cougar tracks in Marquette and Delta counties in 2008.
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.
To learn more about cougars and how to identify their tracks, go www.michigan.gov/cougars.
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