Cougar verified in Michigan's Lower Peninsula for the first time.
One of the hottest topics of debate in Michigan when it comes to wildlife is the presence of cougars.
Now the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has finally confirmed a sighting in the Lower Peninsula. An unnamed Haslett resident saw and photographed one of the big cats on June 21 in Clinton County near Bath Township.
The witness first spotted the big cat in his headlights and captured the photo as it crossed a road.
Biologists visited the location and determined the sighting was genuine.
While the animals were originally native to the Great Lakes State, they were believed to have been all killed off sometime in the early 1900s. But sightings and rumor have persisted for years all over the state. The majority of sightings have come from the state's more rural Upper Peninsula.
A carcass of a young male lion was actually found in the U.P. near Dickinson last February. But the DNR believes that animal was intentionally dumped there, possibly from another state.
The subject has been fodder for many an internet rumor as well. In at least one case, the DNR had to debunk a photo taken in another state that was circulating as having been shot in Michigan.
But the DNR still have questions about this sighting.
"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," DNR wildlife specialist Kevin Swanson said a press release.
The DNR is also taking this opportunity to remind residents the big cats are federally protected. They are however, encouraging Clinton County residents to place trail cameras on their property and share any other photos captured with the wildlife agency.
One thing is for sure, this is an interesting new development in the rumors of cougars living in Michigan. We'll keep an ear to the ground on this and let you know of any more sightings of this cat here at Wide Open Spaces.