The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy and its Institute for Rare Mammals Studies in Michigan (IRMS) continue to receive reports of cougars in the Lower Peninsula. Occasionally its staff and volunteers conduct related field investigations. That was the case in late June when a cougar was photographed by a citizen in Clinton County.
Joseph Warner was traveling near his home in the early morning of June 21 when he spotted a large cat crouching at the side of the road just behind the mailbox of a residence. As the animal looked into the beam of the headlights, Mr. Warner stopped the car and took a photo with a cell phone through the windshield. The resulting photo shows a large tawny cougar with a black-tipped tail.
Dr. Patrick Rusz, MWC’s Director of Wildlife Programs, received the photograph from Mr. Warner the next day and visited the site on June 23. Comparisons with measurements he took of the mailbox, post, road and other objects indicate the cougar seen was more than 7 feet long.
MWC subsequently sent the photo and additional information to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife division. The evidence is significant because the DNR had stated on numerous occasions that it had been unable to verify the presence of any cougars in the Lower Peninsula, at least since 2008 when the wildlife division began using a “cougar team” trained to investigate related evidence.
On June 29th, the DNR officially confirmed the presence of the cougar photographed by Mr. Warner and described it as the first such verification in the Lower Peninsula.
The DNR has confirmed cougar evidence more than 35 times at multiple locations in the Upper Peninsula since 2008, and MWC has published photographs and DNA evidence of cougars in the Lower Peninsula numerous times since it began formal cougar studies in 2000. The organization strongly disputes the notion held by the DNR that all cougars in Michigan are either former pets or wanderers from South Dakota or other Western states. The Conservancy's Institute For Rare Mammals Studies is currently investigating other photos in both peninsulas of our state. Cougars in Michigan are currently on both the federal and state endangered species lists. For more information please contact Dr. Patrick Rusz at 989-295-9609 (mobile).
Check out all the pics of the 2017 Mid-Michigan Arbor Day Celebration at Potter Park Zoo by clicking on the above photo!
Click on the the photo to learn about
Working Dogs for Conservation - A Game Changer!