The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed a cougar in the Lower Peninsula.
The cougar, also referred to as a mountain lion, was spotted in Clinton County’s Bath Township.
This is the first time the presence of a cougar has been verified by the DNR in the state’s Lower Peninsula.
A Haslett resident took a picture of the animal from inside his vehicle on June 21. The man said he was near the DNR’s Rose Lake State Wildlife Area and spotted a large cat in his headlights as the animal crossed the road.
The picture was given to the DNR on June 26 and a field investigation ensued.
DNR biologists determined a cougar had in fact been in that location.
“Even with this verification, questions remain, especially regarding the origins of the animal,” said Kevin Swanson, DNR wildlife specialist and member of the agency’s Cougar Team. “There is no way for us to know if this animal is a dispersing transient from a western state, like cougars that have been genetically tested from the Upper Peninsula, or if this cat was released locally."
Cougars originally were native to Michigan but were gone by the turn of the century.
The last time a wild cougar was legally taken in the state was near Newberry in 1906.
Since 2008, a total of 36 cougar sightings have been documented in the Upper Peninsula, but the DNR has not been able to confirm that there is a breeding population anywhere in the state.
Cougars are protected under the state Endangered Species Act and cannot be harmed except to protect human life.
If you have a cougar encounter, submit it here.
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