Cougars Are Gaining Numbers In Michigan
Let's be honest, did you click the story because you were expecting to read a story about the numbers of older ladies finding younger guys were on the rise? Yeah, this time around, we’re not talking about that kind of cougar.
Fox 17 reports that last year the Michigan DNR was able to confirm 14 cougar sightings within the state of Michigan. That’s the most cougars confirmed sighted in one year ever in the mitten state. Of course, prior to 2008, we didn’t have a real good way of keeping tabs on the wild cat sightings, but just for the simple fact that historically, cougars haven’t really been seen around the eastern part of the U.S. since the late 1800s.
Fox 17 spoke with Cody Norton from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources,
Cougars are native to Michigan, and Norton says they are the most widely-distributed land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. "They're actually found in North America, Central and South America, but they didn't used to be ... They disappeared from most of the eastern US by the late-1800s," Norton said.
Of the 14 cougars spotted in 2020, all but one was spotted in the Upper Pennisula, and Norton told Fox 17 that while cougars are now native to the state, they're not breeding here, at least there hasn't been any evidence found that the cats have a breeding population within Michigan.
Fox 17 also says that it wasn't until 2008 when they developed a cougar tracking team that the cougar numbers became more reliable in the state. the increase in portable technology to track and take pictures with phones and game cameras is what led to the creation of the team. So there is a good chance we could have had a sizeable population before the late 2000s, we just weren't really tracking it.
Michigan DNR told Fox 17 they doubt you'd see a cougar in West Michigan, but I'm sure just three years ago, they'd have told us multiple bears in our area wouldn't be a thing either. Animals are unpredictable, although as the story said, all but 1 of the 14 sightings were in the U.P. last year. In case you do see a cougar, here's how you can report the sighting, HERE.