The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday that three recent trail camera photos of cougars in the Upper Peninsula have been verified by the DNR:
Two of the photos, both of a cougar with a radio collar, were taken in October in Menominee County – one near Cedar River and one near Menominee just north of the Wisconsin border. The third photo was taken in northern Marquette County in November. The cougar in the Marquette County photo is not wearing a radio collar.
The DNR does not place radio collars on cougars; North Dakota and South Dakota are the nearest states where wildlife researchers have placed radio collars on cougars to track their movement. The DNR has not yet been able to determine the origin of the radio-collared cougar that is in Michigan.
…DNR Wildlife Division staff have now verified the presence of cougars in the Upper Peninsula 20 times since 2008.
To date, the DNR has confirmed 11 photos, eight separate sets of tracks, and one trail camera video from 10 Upper Peninsula counties: Baraga, Chippewa, Delta, Houghton, Keweenaw, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft.
“The increasing number and frequency of verified cougar sightings in recent years are likely due to three factors in particular: The growing popularity of trail cameras used to monitor wildlife activity in the woods 24 hours a day; additional transient cougars moving east from established populations in western states as they seek new territory; and the cooperation of the public in reporting cougar sightings and sharing their photos with us for official review, which we greatly appreciate,” said Adam Bump, one of four DNR biologists specially trained to investigate cougar reports.
The DNR adds that cougars may travel hundreds of miles in search of new territory – as far as Connecticut from South Dakota.
You can report cougar tracks and other evidence should be made to a local DNR office or by submitting the sighting on the DNR’s online reporting form at www.michigan.gov/cougars.
More on the Michigan cougar saga on Michigan in Pictures.