BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich (WLNS) – Here’s something you don’t hear every day: a mountain lion has been confirmed in Bath Township in Clinton County.
This would be the first time a cougar, another name for mountain lion, has been sighted in the Lower Peninsula and confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources.
According to the DNR, on June 21, a Haslett resident took a photograph of an animal from his vehicle in Bath Township near the DNR’s Rose Lake State Wildlife Area.
The person said that he spotted a large cat in his headlights as the animal attempted to cross a road.
He took a picture as the cougar turned back from the road.
In the photo the big cat is just to the right of the mailbox.
DNR field biologists looked at the photo and examined the area where it was taken.
That was when they determined that the animal was, in fact, a cougar.
“Even with this verification, questions remain, especially regarding the origins of the animal,” said Kevin Swanson, DNR wildlife specialist and member of the agency’s Cougar Team. “There is no way for us to know if this animal is a dispersing transient from a western state, like cougars that have been genetically tested from the Upper Peninsula, or if this cat was released locally.”
Cougars are native to Michigan but all but disappeared around the turn of the 20th century.
The last time a wild cougar was legally taken in Michigan was in 1906 in the Upper Peninsula.
Since 2008 there have 36 cougar sightings in Michigan, all in the U.P.
Cougars are protected under the state Endangered Species Act and cannot be harmed except to protect people.
The odds of encountering a cougar in the wild are very small, and attacks on people are extremely rare.
The DNR does have some suggestions should you encounter 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.
ONLINE: Cougar information