For at least the last 15 years I have heard stories of mountain lion sightings from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In fact a friend of mine (Dave Marcum) said he had one around his bait pile several years ago. He watched it for several minutes. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources didn’t pay much attention to those that reported such encounters, until the evidence became overwhelming. Just a few years ago they finally acknowledged that “yes” Michigan did have a few cougars roaming about it’s northern forest. You will now find them mentioned in the D.N.R’s hunting brochure, as a protected species. There hasn’t been much mention of them roaming the lower peninsula but an acquaintance of mine caught one on his trail cam here in Monroe County. You can’t get any further south in Michigan than Monroe. I’ve seen the picture, and yes it is a cougar (mountain lion!)
Well last week two individuals from Bay county were arrested for illegally killing a cougar in Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula. The cougar was know to frequent the area he was killed in, and an anonymous tip led to the arrest of the two mentioned. The perpetrators could receive up to 90 days in jail and a $2500.00 dollar fine. The last legal cougar killed in Michigan was around Newberry in 1906. They were gone from Michigan shortly thereafter!
Presently the Department of Natural resources has confirmed 23 separate sightings of cougars in Michigan. As of yet no breeding has taken place, as it would seem that the all male cougar community hasn’t found a female counterpart. I’m sure that’s only a matter of time, as the big cats expand their area. Cougars are territorial and the dominate male will run off the younger competition. Many believe that the bulk of Michigan’s cougar population has migrated from the Dakotas, as they search for new territory to establish their own domain. A full grown cougar (close to 200 pounds) can bring down any deer or even a full grown elk, not to mention a human who may get in it’s way. They are stealthy, silent, and powerful killers, and may be coming to a forest near you in that future.