Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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DNR confirms the presence of a cougar in Delta County

Gladstone, Mich. – For the second time in recent years, the
Michigan DNR has confirmed evidence of a cougar in the Upper
Peninsula.

A track found earlier this month in southern Delta County is
likely a cougar track, according to state officials.

“We were contacted by a private landowner stating he may have a
cougar track on his property. The landowner covered the track and Š
DNR staff investigated the site,” Steve Chadwick, acting furbearer
specialist for DNR, said in a news release. “Wildlife staff took
photos and measurements of the tracks. They followed the tracks as
far as possible but there was no sighting of a cougar.”

The DNR says trained staff and national cougar experts examined
the photos and concluded that the tracks are likely from a
cougar.

No other evidence – scat or hair – was found in the area.

“Unfortunately there wasn’t anything else,” Chadwick told
Michigan Outdoor News. “The trail of tracks followed a logging
road, then turned off onto a deer trail and into a cedar swamp.
Once it got onto the deer trail, the deer obliterated the
tracks.”

An adult cougar track is about 3 inches long by 3 inches wide,
according to the DNR, with very specific characteristics.

“Four Michigan DNR wildlife biologists have attended intensive
cougar training in New Mexico over the last year and a half,”
Douglas Reeves, acting chief of the Wildlife Division, said in a
release. “We feel confident in their abilities and are comfortable
with their assessment that these large cat tracks most likely were
made by a cougar.”

Chadwick said a few days after the track was documented that a
fresh dusting of snow covered the area and biologists returned to
look for more sign.

“They went back and searched about 16 miles and were unable to
find any fresh tracks,” he said.

The DNR is continuing its field investigations in the area.

“We’ll continue to monitor the area, and if we get some more
evidence, maybe we’ll put out some trail cameras and try to get a
picture,” Chadwick said. “Basically, right now we at least have a
track. It won’t change our management, but we will continue to
monitor the situation.”

Four years ago, about 8 miles east of where the track was found,
the DNR confirmed its first piece of cougar evidence. A woman hit
what she thought was a cougar with her car. Hairs that were
collected from the bumper of the vehicle were tested and scientists
confirmed them to be from a cougar.

“We’ve had several sightings and other information (from the
area), but nothing like we received with this track,” Chadwick
said.

“We possibly have a transient, a sub-adult male that wandered
through and is still wandering. Sub-adult males tend to wander the
farthest,” he said. “The track is fairly large, so it could be an
adult; it’s tough to tell from a track.”

Chadwick said both North Dakota and South Dakota have cougar
populations, and this cat may have wandered in from there. He said
there are documented cases of cougars traveling hundreds of miles
into the Midwest. Recently, Wisconsin confirmed a cougar in Rock
County in southern Wisconsin.

“We would like to emphasize that if landowners believe they have
evidence of a cougar on their property – especially tracks or a
kill site – they contact a DNR local field office as soon as
possible and staff will investigate the situation,” Chadwick said.
“Make sure to cover the evidence, so it is not compromised by the
time staff arrives.”

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