LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that there really are cougars on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
Officials say that a resident of Haslett took a picture near the Rose Lake State Wildlife Area in Bath Township on June 21 of the large cat trying to cross the road. The cougar turned back from the road and went into the woods. The area is to the northeast of East Lansing, Michigan.
The DNR got the photo on June 26 and investigated by reviewing the photo and visiting the site. They confirmed it was a cougar, but still question where it came from.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
The DNR says the last wild cougar legally taken in Newberry, in the Upper Peninsula, in 1906. Since 2008, the DNR says there have been 36 cougar sightings in the U.P. The DNR says they have not confirmed a breeding population of cougars in Michigan.
Cougars are protected under the state Endangered Species Act and cannot be harmed except to protect human life.