Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed reports of six cougar sightings in Michigan this year alone. Here's what to do if you see one in the wild.

Cougars were originally native to Michigan, but they were wiped out in the early 1900s and are now an endangered species in the state. Lately, the big cat is making a comeback. Sometimes called mountain lions, panthers or pumas, the DNR has six confirmed reports of cougars in Michigan this year, all in the Upper Peninsula: one each in Chippewa, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft counties and three in Delta County.

Trail cam evidence is not enough, however. The agency also looks for carcasses, DNA, tracks, and other signs verified by experts to document the presence of cougars. So, if they were once extinct in Michigan, where did they come from? The answer may be 900+ miles away.

DNA analysis of two cougars poached in the U.P....showed the animals likely dispersed from their established populations in South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska.

-Cody Norton, Michigan DNR

The odds of encountering a cougar in the wild are very small and attacks are extremely rare. Should you encounter a cougar, Michigan DNR says:

  • Face the animal and do not act submissive. Stand tall, wave your arms, and talk in a loud voice.
  • Never run from a cougar or other large carnivore.
  • If children are present, pick them up so they cannot run.If attacked, fight back with whatever is available. DO NOT play dead.
  • Report the encounter to local authorities and the DNR as soon as possible.
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