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Michigan sees nearly a dozen cougar sightings in 2021

dark photo of a cougar in the woods lit up by a trail camera
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
A trail camera captured this photo of a cougar on May 24 in western Marquette County.

There have been 11 cougar sightings in Michigan in 2021, as of mid-December.

In 2020, the state Department of Natural Resources confirmed 14 sightings. That’s the most since it began tracking the animals in 2008.

Cody Norton is a large carnivore specialist for the DNR. From what his team can tell, there are about one or two big cats roaming the Upper Peninsula coming in from the west.

But he says this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

"The odds of encountering it are extremely infrequent, probably the lowest odds of encountering an animal ... in the state."

Norton says it’s mostly trail or security cameras from residents capturing photos and videos of the animals.

"You kind of get mixed reviews from folks whether they're really concerned about having a cougar in the area, and some other people are just super excited to get one and aren't worried at all," he said.

All of the sightings this year have been in the Upper Peninsula. Only one sighting has been recorded in the Lower Peninsula since the DNR began tracking cougars. That was in Clinton County in 2017.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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