Illegally killed cougar in UP linked to two in Bay County - WNEM TV 5

Illegally killed cougar in UP linked to two in Bay County

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BAY COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Michigan Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officials have confirmed a cougar was illegally killed last week in the Upper Peninsula's Schoolcraft County.

Acting on a tip that a cougar had been illegally killed at a hunting camp, DNR conservation officers and special investigations unit detectives were able to successfully recover evidence and identify and apprehend two suspects from Bay County.

Upon completion of the DNR's investigation, the case will be turned over to the Schoolcraft County prosecuting sttorney with warrant requests for charges.

The state penalty for illegally killing a cougar, classified as an endangered species in Michigan, is up to 90 days in jail and fines and restitution of up to $2,500.

A trail camera photo of a cougar near the same area as this incident was recently confirmed by the DNR's Wildlife Division. Wildlife officials believe the animal killed was most likely the same cougar seen in the recent photo.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions, disappeared from the state in the early 1900s. The last confirmed wild cougar in Michigan prior to 2008 was an animal killed near Newberry in 1906.

Since 2008, the DNR has confirmed photos or tracks of cougars on 23 occasions in 10 Upper Peninsula counties. The animals are believed to be young individuals dispersing from established populations in the Dakotas in search of new territory. There is no evidence of a breeding population of cougars in the state.

The Wildlife Division's specially-trained cougar team welcomes citizen reports of possible cougar evidence or sightings. Cougar photos and other evidence - such as tracks, scat or cached kills - should be reported to a local DNR office or through the DNR's online reporting form at www.michigan.gov/cougars.

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