SAINT JACQUES, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed another cougar sighting in northern Michigan, just 11 miles from the last confirmed sighting in mid August.
According to the DNR, a trail camera cught the image of the cougar in Delta County on Sept. 22, and confirmed it shortly after. It is the 41st verified cougar sighting in Michigan since 2008.
The 40th confirmed sighting happened on public land in Delta County, taken around 8:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17.
This area is about 170 miles from where a cougar trail camera image was snapped on July 7 in Gogebic County and verified by the DNR in mid-August.
In that one, a private landowner took a picture of the cougar in the daylight hours
Since 2008, the DNR has now confirmed 40 cougar reports, with all but one of those occurring in the Upper Peninsula. The DNR said those reports may be sightings of the same cougar, not all 40 separate cougars.
Cougars are an endangered species in Michigan and protected by law, and there is no conclusive evidence of a Michigan breeding population of mountain lions.
According to the DNR, previous genetic testing samples from two cougars poached in the U.P. showed they likely came from a population found in South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest Nebraska. It matched a hypothesis from DNR biologists that mountain lions in the area were males looking to establish territories.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cougars were once the most widely distributed land animal in the Western Hemisphere but have been eliminated from about two-thirds of their historic range.
To learn more about cougars in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Cougars.