Cougar in U.P. caught on film by trail camera

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News

A cougar was photographed during the daytime in Michigan's Upper Peninsula last month, state officials confirmed Monday in a news release. 

The rare image was captured July 7 with a landowner's trail camera northwest of Ironwood, in the far western portion of the Upper Peninsula's Gogebic County. It is the state’s 39th cougar report since 2008, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“This is very close to where a cougar was documented on a Deer Movement Study trail camera last year,” said Cody Norton, a large carnivore specialist with the DNR's Bear and Wolf Program.

A mountain lion image caught on a landowner’s trail camera in Gogebic County has been confirmed as the state’s 39th cougar report since 2008.

All but one of the 39 confirmed sightings have been in the Upper Peninsula. DNR officials said that the sightings may be the same cougar, stressing there are "not necessarily 39 individual animals."

Officials said there "remains no conclusive evidence of a Michigan breeding population of mountain lions."

Cougars are a protected endangered species 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 said.

A wildlife biologist came to the site Thursday. 

Cougars were native in Michigan but were hunted to local extinction from the state around the turn of the 20th century, according to the DNR press release.

Genetic testing from two cougars previously poached in the U.P. showed animals likely came from South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest Nebraska.