Mountain Lion Spotted on Michigan Hunter’s Trail Cam

   02.20.15

Mountain lion sightings in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are rare events (there’s no significant cougar population in the state), but one has been spotted prowling in Mackinac County recently. On Thursday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed that the large cat recorded by a hunter’s trail camera in December was indeed a mountain lion.

“This marks the 28th time that cougar evidence has been verified in the Upper Peninsula since 2008,” the DNR stated on its Facebook page.

Two hunters from Remus placed the camera near a deer kill site and it recorded footage of a male mountain lion visiting the area repeatedly to take advantage of an easy meal. This is especially significant because the species was thought to have been locally extinct since 1906. The DNR has recorded a slow uptick in sightings over the past seven years. According to wildlife officials, mountain lions were originally native to Michigan but were extirpated near the turn of the twentieth century. Despite this, it seems that a small number of the animals may have moved into the state. Biologists first discovered the presence of cougars in Michigan after one was reportedly struck by a car in 2004. Although the animal was not found, tests of fur samples collected from the car bumper positively identified the animal as a cougar.

Some of the animals may have escaped from private owners, as it is still legal to own a mountain lion brought into the state prior to 2000, when Michigan passed a law to ban the possession of large exotic cats. However, as the years pass, it has become increasingly unlikely that animals found in the wild were once captive. Officials now believe that some of the cats may have made long journeys from states with breeding populations.

“Based on documented evidence, cougars observed in Michigan could be escaped or released pets. Or, they could be transient or dispersing cougars from the nearest known breeding populations in North and South Dakota,” stated the DNR on its website. “These populations are over 900 miles from Michigan.”

Wherever they came from, mountain lions in the Upper Peninsula may face competition from the approximately 630 wolves living in the region. Officials advise residents to report any cougar sightings directly to the DNR.

You can see a 60-second clip of the trail camera footage below.

Read More