The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that a wildlife track found in Delta County is most likely from a cougar.
“We were contacted by a private landowner stating he may have a cougar track on his property. The landowner covered the track and on Monday morning DNR staff investigated the site,” said Steve Chadwick, acting furbearer specialist for DNR. “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 photos were sent to the Wildlife Division’s trained staff on cougars and national experts. It was agreed that the tracks are characteristic of a cougar including overall look, shape, and size. A cougar track is about three inches long by three inches wide with very specific characteristics. Photos of the track are posted on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr.
“Four Michigan DNR wildlife biologists have attended intensive cougar training in New Mexico over the last year and a half,” said Douglas Reeves, Wildlife Division acting chief. “We feel confident in their abilities and are comfortable with their assessment that these large cat tracks most likely were made by a cougar.”
The DNR is continuing its field investigations in the area.
“We would like to emphasize that if landowners believe they have evidence of a cougar on their property — especially tracks or a kill site– contact a DNR local field office as soon as possible and staff will investigate the situation,” said Chadwick. “Make sure to cover the evidence, so it is not compromised by the time staff arrives. However, if there is no evidence, the DNR will not visit the site.”
Confirmed cougar populations exist in North and South Dakota. There are many documented cases of transient cougars, which are most likely dispersing young males, traveling hundreds of miles into the Midwest. Recently, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources confirmed a cougar in Rock County in southern Wisconsin. The DNR would like to remind citizens what to do if they come into contact with a cougar.
1. Stop, stand tall and do not run. Pick up small children. Do not run. A cougar’s instinct is to chase.
2. Do not approach the animal.
3. Try to appear larger than the cougar. Never take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.
4. If the animal displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.
5. If the cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back.
The cougar is a classified as an endangered species in Michigan. It is unlawful to kill, harass, or otherwise harm a cougar except in the immediate defense of human life. Additional information about cougars can be found on the DNR Web site.
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