A Michigan resident shared a photo with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirming a Cougar sighting in the Lower Peninsula since the once statewide species was eradicated in the early 1900s.
DNR biologist conducted a field inspection in the area where the photo was shot, confirming it's was a cougar.
"We have no idea where the cat came from," said Ken Swanson, a DNR wildlife management specialist. "It could be a transient from out West. Or, this could also be an escaped pet, or (otherwise) released. It's very difficult for us to know."
"It was driven by concern about predation of livestock and people concerned for their safety," he said.
The odds of encountering a cougar in the wild are very small, and attacks on humans are extremely rare. The DNR advises that anyone encountering a cougar:
- Face the animal and do not act submissive. Stand tall, wave your arms and talk in a loud voice.
- Never run from a cougar or other large carnivore. If children are present, pick them up so they cannot run.
- Do not crouch and get on all fours.
- If attacked, fight back with whatever is available. DO NOT play dead.
- Report the encounter to local authorities and the DNR as soon as possible.
Lindemulder had another word of advice for anyone spotting a cougar: They are a state-protected species, illegal to kill in Michigan unless a person's life is in imminent danger.
"Just stay away," he said. "And if you can't avoid it, like the DNR says, don't run away, and make a lot of noise."
To learn more about cougars, visit mi.gov/cougars.