For years the Michigan DNR treated residents of the state of Michigan as fools denying a resident Cougar population.Â They told people they had mistook house cats as cougars, dogs and many other insulting and frankly stupid excuses.Â Spartan Nation worked with the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy (MWC) and eventually legislatures saw the evidence provided and opened hearings about a cougar population in the state of Michigan.
After being presented with overwhelming and frankly embarrassing amounts of proof that they could no longer deny, the MDNR said that there were some here, but they were a wandering population from out west.Â Well as the evidence continues to mount more proof was released this week by the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy.Â Here is the photo and press release that they sent out.
BATH,Â Mich. â€“ The Michigan Wildlife ConservancyÂ (MWC), a non-profit organization based in Bath, near Lansing, recently confirmedÂ the presence of a cougar in southern Marquette County.Â The cougar was photographed by a casedÂ and padlocked trail camera on private property on June 1, 2012.Â The property owners will also shareÂ their information with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) butÂ do not wish to be publicly identified.Â Â Â Â
Â Dr. Patrick Rusz, Director ofÂ Wildlife Programs for the Conservancy, and Michael Zuidema, a retired DNRÂ forester, verified the trail cameraâ€™s location on a well-worn wildlife trailÂ atop a wooded ridge.Â The camera hasÂ also photographed wolves, coyotes, fishers and numerous other species at theÂ same site over a four year period.Â
TheÂ MWC is publicizing this photograph because it may be the best, clearestÂ photograph of a wild Michigan cougar ever taken.Â It is also unusually interesting becauseÂ Mr. Zuidema has recorded over twenty credible cougar sightings in the sameÂ vicinity since the 1970s.Â TheseÂ include several sightings within a few miles of the trail camera location.
Dr. Rusz stated that â€œthe long history of sighting reports in the area indicates the cougar photographed on June 1 may be part of a resident population rather than a wandering cat from a western state.â€Â Dr. Rusz has studied cougars for the Conservancy for 14 years and isÂ co-author of a peer-reviewed study that confirmed cougars in both peninsulas ofÂ Michigan by analyses of DNA in droppings.Â He has also identified a long list of additional physical evidence datingÂ back to 1966, and notes that Michigan State College zoologist Richard ManvilleÂ documented several cougar sightings or incidents when he inventoried the faunaÂ of Marquette Countyâ€™s Huron Mountains from 1939 to 1942.Â
TheÂ large volume of recent Michigan evidence includes fifteen MDNR confirmationsÂ since the agency formed a cougar team of specially trained biologists inÂ 2008.Â Â The most recent MDNRÂ confirmation occurred last May when a cougar was photographed with a hand-heldÂ camera near Skanee in Baraga County.Â That photograph was taken about 50 miles north of the Marquette CountyÂ trail camera location.Â Â Â
â€œTheÂ MDNR cougar team should now look at the very good evidence of a remnant cougarÂ population collected before 2008,â€ said Bill Taylor, President of theÂ Conservancy.Â â€œThey could stillÂ easily verify cougar photos taken in the 1990â€™s in Alcona and Oscoda Counties inÂ the Lower Peninsula and some others.Â The vegetation and other landmarks needed to confirm the photos are stillÂ there.â€
TheÂ Michigan Wildlife Conservancy is a non-profit citizens group established in 1982Â to restore Michiganâ€™s wildlife legacy.Â The Conservancy has restored more than 8,200 acres of wetlands, 2,500Â acres of prairies and grasslands, and hundreds of miles of trout streams, andÂ helped with several rare species recoveries and the creation of many backyardÂ habitats.Â The Conservancy website,Â www.miwildlife.org, highlights some of the completed habitat restorations andÂ other work.Â