Cougars, also known as mountain lions or pumas, were originally native to Michigan, but were entirely extirpated by the early 1900’s. And even though the last wild cougar sighting in Michigan was in 1906, just outside of Newberry, there are still perpetual rumors of cougar sightings throughout the state to this very day. This comes as no surprise since it is certainly possible for cougars to wander through regions and cross over borders. If you believe you’ve recently spotted a mountain lion near your home or business, you are likely filled with questions and concerns.
Continue below to review a list of frequently asked questions about cougars, including where to get the best wildlife abatement advice.
So Does Michigan Have Cougars or Not?
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), our state is not a native region for mountain lions. In order for Michigan to be considered a state with a cougar presence or population, there must be physical evidence, such as carcasses, DNA, paw tracks, or actual photographic proof. So far, there are only rumors of cougar sightings, which is not enough to make Michigan an official native region.
Is Our State Looking for Evidence of Mountain Lions?
Yes; in fact, the Wildlife Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is actively conducting surveys and investigations to confirm cougar presence in our state. One method they are using do implement their research is conducting annual winter track surveys for fur-bearing animals, namely wolves. They are covering thousands of miles of roads and known animal trails in the northern and Upper Peninsula regions of the state.
Where are Cougars Coming From?
So if cougars are not native here in Michigan anymore, where are they coming from? The most likely answer is that they are illegal pets that have escaped custody. There are several mountain lion breeders who illegally raise cougars and keep them as pets. Sometimes, the cougars break free, or the owners are no longer capable of caring for them so they let them free. In other cases, cougars could be coming from states with known cougar populations, such as North and South Dakota. However, the National Park Service has conducted long-term trail camera surveillance, and so far, no video evidence has shown any proof of such commutes.
Are Mountain Lions Endangered?
In Michigan, cougars are listed as an endangered species, and therefore, protected under state law. This means that you cannot attempt to trap, harm, or kill a mountain lion unless in self-defense.
Are Cougar Owners Allowed to Have Them as Pets?
If an individual owned a pet cougar prior to 2000, they are still permitted under law to keep their cougar as a pet. Since 2000, large cat possession and ownership has been illegal, and no new permits have been issued. Those who are reported having an illegal cat will be heavily fined, and the animal will be confiscated and relocated to a suitable wildlife rescue habitat.
What Do I Do If I See a Cougar?
If you spot a cougar, stand tall, wave your arms, and scream at them. NEVER run or play dead. After the cougar runs away, contact the local DNR Operations Service Center to report the sighting. If it is after business hours, contact the DNR Report all Poaching (RAP) hotline at 1-800-292-7800. If you have physical evidence of a cougar (scat, tracks, or carcass), do not disturb the area and keep it all intact. Then be sure to include such evidence via photos with your report.
Can I Kill a Cougar?
As mentioned, cougars are protected under state law as endangered species, which means that you cannot attempt to trap, harm, or keep a mountain lion. However, if you or someone else is in direct threat of a cougar attack, you are permitted to kill it so long as it is in self-defense. If you do kill a cougar out of self-defense, the situation must be immediately reported to the DNR.
Do You Have a Nuisance Wild Animal Problem?
Although we do not deal with large cats, dogs, or waterfowl, here at Wicked Wildlife Removal, we can provide real workable solutions for all other nuisance wildlife problems in Michigan! We are a licensed, bonded, and insured wildlife removal company that provides real workable solutions for nuisance wildlife problems. We serve more than 25 municipalities within the Southeast Michigan areas with non-lethal, residential and commercial wildlife removal and control services at the most competitive prices around. Contact our office at 248-621-3673 free estimates and information, anytime.