Posted by: Kath Usitalo | July 19, 2012

What’s Up With Cougar Sightings In The U.P.?

This photo of a cougar was snapped on June 1 by a trail camera in Marquette County (Michigan Wildlife Conservancy photo)

It was about 11 p.m. a couple of summers ago on Highway 117 north of Engadine in the Upper Peninsula. T.J., Paige, Tucker the Wonder Dog and I were returning to Naubinway and Blue Skies from a day trip to Marquette.

I was driving. Ours were the only headlights for miles. Paige was keeping me company while T.J. and Tucker dozed. Across the two-lane to my left, just off the shoulder at the edge of the woods, I saw the face of a cougar in the brush.

Our cougar sighting was about 7 miles north of The Pine Bar in Engadine

And no, I don’t mean the woman who’d been trying to pick up the younger guy at the Pine Bar in Engadine.

The mountain lion was crouched and watching, as if waiting to cross the road. I gasped and said something profound like, “A cougar!” Paige saw it, too.

I turned the buggy around but of course the big cat was nowhere to be seen. T.J., roused from his nap, dismissed us. Tucker was mum on the matter.

The next day I checked the Department of Natural Resources website, www.michigan.gov/cougars, for information, photos, and to report the sighting. Yup. The face we saw was of a cougar.

Cougar photo from Wikipedia

At one time cougars roamed Michigan, but the last official sighting was recorded in Newberry in 1906. (We were about 12 miles south of Newberry when we spotted “our” cougar.)

Although the endangered species had supposedly disappeared from the state, people continued to see the animals in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The DNR insisted that Michigan’s native cougar population had died out, and that the random sightings were of escaped or released pets.

In 2008, however, the state office formed a cougar team of biologists and since then has recorded evidence of 15 of the animals, including a photo of one taken on May 5 in Baraga County. The photographer had spotted it crossing the road near Skanee.

The photo (above) released this week was taken on June 1, 2012. It clearly shows a large cougar striding past a trail camera that has recorded many wild species on the private property in southern Marquette County.

Cougar Town’s Courtney Cox has not yet been spotted in or near Engadine, Michigan

No known photos exist of the female cougar sighted at the Pine Bar in Engadine, but it has been confirmed that it was not Cougar Town’s Courtney Cox.

Tracking the cougar in Michigan:

Michigan DNR

Michigan Wildlife Conservancy

Michigan Citizens for Cougar Recognition

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