VIDEO: Seeing is believing — cougar caught on camera in Michigan


For years there were sightings.

Then in 2008, came the tracks.

In 2009, came a photo.

Now, there’s a video — a cougar roaming Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

 (Video: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  Owners of trail camera did not want to be identified)

A trail camera on private property in northwestern Upper Peninsula captured the cougar on Sept. 8.  The Michigan Department of Natural Resources visited the property in Ontonagon County earlier this week and verified the camera’s location.

The cougar had an ear tag and a radio collar.  Only western states tag and collar cougars for research, so Michigan state officials are trying to track down where the big cat came from.

Cougars were native to Michigan but were thought to have no population left at the turn of the 20th century. They are listed as an endangered species in Michigan.  The closest established populations are in North and South Dakota — over 900 miles away.

Citizen sightings in Michigan have remained constant but hard to verify.  There are multiple citizen groups and environmental organizations that compile sightings and encourage the state to recognize its presence (Michigan Citizens for Cougar Recognition, Save the Cougar, Michigan Wildlife Conservancy).

Prior to this video, the Department of Natural Resources verified sets of tracks, a study that found positive scat samples, a photo, and DNA from a hair sample on a car bumper, but did not go so far as to formally acknowledge a population of cougars in the state.

That may be difficult now.




Featured photo: digitalART2 (Flickr) 

5 thoughts on “VIDEO: Seeing is believing — cougar caught on camera in Michigan

  1. Young boy: If you look closely enough you will understand the truth about the cougars.

    Neo: What truth?

    Young boy: There are no cougars.

  2. This story is significant because the DNR most often opined that cougar sightings were likely of cats which had been released from captivity. The radio-collared cougar demonstrates that wild animals can be in Michigan by traveling long distances, and that a local population could be established that way. Cougars have been regularly reported in Michigan in recent years and sightings have been verified by tracks, scat and DNA evidence. One prime area for cougar sightings has been in the U.P. along the shore of Lake Michigan. A few years ago, a dead deer was discovered up in a tree in the Huron Mountain Club property northwest of Marquette–another indication of cougars in the area. The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy has kept track of many other cougar reports and has been one of the principal groups urging the DNR to acknowledge the presence of cougars in Michigan.

  3. Unverified reports of cougar sightings have been made for 30-40 yrs. It is only because of the advancement and application of trail cams that cougars are finally being recorded. Also heightened interest and DNA analysis has put the spotlight on them. I doubt very much that all the sightings are only of cats passing thru, especially during the 1980s and 90s when we had a huge deer population. I would bet that some settled in the U.P. Admittedly this cougar with a radio collar and tag probably was from out west.

  4. Most of the cougars seen pass through, as evidenced by one in Wisconsin that eventually was road-killed on the East Coast this year. Still, can’t help but believe there are a few around with all the deer, wild turkeys and other critters to eat.

  5. You might want to reconsider that last statement. Tarnished an otherwise solid news story. How does a cougar roaming to Michigan from out West prove that there is an established population in Michigan? The one caught on trail cam last year ended up dead in Connecticut… these guys can roam far and wide looking for a mate and new territory. Please don’t substitute opinion for research, k?

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