An image of a cougar was caught on a landowner’s trail camera in Gogebic County in the west side of the Upper Peninsula, on July 7.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources team of wildlife biologists reviewed the photo and verified the information after visiting the location on August 8.
Confirmations are derived from trail camera video, photographs, tracks, and other methods.
To confirm the presence of two male cats, researchers look at poached carcasses. Previous genetic testing on tissue samples from two cougars poached showed that they likely came from a population found in South Dakota, Wyoming, and northwest Nebraska.
Cody Norton is a large carnivore specialist with the DNR’s Bear and Wolf Program. He said it isn’t common to find many cougars in Michigan.
“With an average of three confirmed cougar reports in each of the past 12 years, these animals remain rare in the Upper Peninsula,” Norton stated in a press release.
Once native to Michigan and much of the Western Hemisphere, cougars are now an endangered species, protected by law. Since 2008, there have been 38 cougar reports in the Upper Peninsula, and one report in the lower peninsula.
Some of these reports are of the same cougar and don’t translate to 39 different cougars spotted, according to the DNR.
Researchers with the DNR uses 50 game cameras to track animals in their deer movement study in the Upper Peninsula.
“This is very close to where a cougar was documented on a Deer Movement Study trail camera last year,” Norton said.
Images of the cougar Norton mentioned were caught at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 1, 2018 in Ironwood Township.