Mountain lions (cougars) were once native to Michigan. But are there mountain lions in Michigan today? Unfortunately, this region was previously packed with mountain lions, but the animals were wiped out in the 1900s.
They are now classified as endangered species in Michigan. In addition, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ attention has now shifted to mountain lions.
There have been reports of people encountering mountain lions in Michigan, but are these reports genuine? Do mountain lions still exist in Michigan? Here is all we know so far.
Are There Mountain Lions In Michigan?
There have been reports of mountain lions in the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Since the DNR started showing interest in cougars (pumas or mountain lions) in 2008, asking people to report sightings, several people have reported seeing the big cats in the state.
There have been 75 confirmed mountain lion sightings in total since 2018. In other words, 74 were spotted in the Upper Peninsula, while one was spotted in the Lower Peninsula.
The DNR is asking everyone to report sightings of mountain lions in the state. You can send your report here.
How Many Mountain Lions Are In Michigan?
So far, reports of sightings of the cougar show 75 are roaming the state’s forested areas. However, wildlife experts have debunked claims that 75 or more mountain lions are in the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
The reason is that people may have spotted one mountain lion twice or thrice and called in to report their sightings. So, there could be fewer or more mountain lions in the state.
Counting how many mountain lions are present in Michigan will be difficult. These big cats move from one state to another, so it will be inappropriate to claim a specific figure.
The only known fact is that the state has mountain lions. And there are images to prove their presence. Some hikers have even reported incidents where a mountain lion charged at them.
Another interesting fact about the mountain lions spotted in the state so far is this. All of them so far have been males. No one has spotted female cougars or litters in the state.
Therefore, the possibility of cougars in the state increasing anytime soon is relatively low unless things change quickly.
A Handy Tip: The DNR’s interest and observation of cougars in the state is not to aid their reproduction and multiplication. Instead, they’ll allow nature to take its course.
Where Are Mountain Lions In Michigan Migrating From?
Kristie Sitar, a DNR wildlife biologist at Newberry, spoke about the sightings of mountain lions in the state and what she has observed so far. She reported that there has been no evidence of a cougar breeding population in Michigan yet.
In other words, there has been no sign of kittens in the many reports the DNR has received. And even the cougars whose sex they have determined turned out to be males.
Sitar’s comments show that the DNR has conducted extensive studies on mountain lions since they were first spotted in the state. While speaking about the sightings, she mentioned that the DNA studies conducted on the cougars spotted in the state have been eye-opening.
The studies used evidence from verified reports of a mountain lion poached in Schoolcraft County years ago. Sitar noted that the testing showed that the animals reportedly sighted in Michigan can be traced back to a population spotted in other states. These include Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
Therefore, the mountain lions reportedly sighted in Michigan weren’t originally from the state. They migrated from other states, as Sitar had rightly mentioned.
In her observations, the mountain lions spotted in the state may be young males looking for a new place far from home. They’re also seeking mates to establish their territories. Thus, they may keep moving until they find a suitable female mountain lion.
Should You Worry If You Sight A Mountain Lion Near Your Home In Michigan?
Firstly, most mountain lions spotted in Michigan have been in the Upper Peninsula. Thus, the chances of finding one in the Lower Peninsula are low.
Many people will get scared and freak out upon sighting a mountain lion. But if you find yourself in such a situation, the earlier you realize that freaking out won’t help you, the better.
Instead of freaking out, you can take several preventive measures to make your abode less attractive to these big cats. Even when you encounter them, there are things you can do to ensure they don’t harm you.
So, here are things you can do to make your property less attractive to mountain lions and steps to take when you encounter one.
1: Remove sources of food:
Animals will always come visit where they can find food in abundance. Thus, if your home happens to be one of those places, you’re inviting trouble.
Mountain lions consume meat and are great opportunities. They can eat anything from coyotes to mice to raccoons. Mountain lions can also eat livestock and pets left outdoors. But deer always appear on the menu for over 75% of their diet.
2: Remove safety and shelter:
Mountain lions will always look for a place to rest after roaming the wild, searching for food and mates. Most times, they may prefer to hide in places where they may quickly find food, such as near homes.
The possibility of having a mountain lion as a visitor increases when you provide shelter for your animals. The shelter you made for your livestock can become a home for mountain lions. So, watch out.
Other steps to prevent mountain lions from visiting your property include removing landscaping that provides shrubby cover where animals can hide near buildings. You can also make it difficult for mountain lions to make your property a home by installing outside lighting that boasts motion detectors.
3: Appear dangerous when you encounter a mountain lion:
Studies have shown that mountain lions may leave their meals behind to avoid people within earshot. So, they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.
Don’t get scared when you encounter a mountain lion. Another thing you must avoid is turning your back on it. If you do, you are only inviting it to attack you.
Instead, make yourself as big as possible. Open your arms wide and wave them. Shout at the top of your voice, using a strong tone. Don’t bend your head down. Instead, stand tall and scary.
4: Don’t run away from a mountain lion:
Do not run away when you encounter a mountain lion. If you do, you’ll invite it to chase after you, and you know what that may lead to.
You can slowly move away from the mountain lion, but don’t run away. If it attacks you, fight back. Don’t play dead when struck by a mountain lion.
Though mountain lions have reportedly charged at a hiker, the chances it will happen to everyone visiting the Lower or Upper Peninsula, where these big cats have been spotted, is low.
Only 75 mountain lions have been spotted in Michigan (Upper and Lower Peninsulas), so the population is extremely low. The mountain lions spotted by some Michiganders may have even left the state entirely.
Are there mountain lions in Michigan? There have been reports of the presence of mountain lions in Michigan. Around 74 cougars have been spotted in the Upper Peninsula, while only one in the Lower Peninsula.
Studies conducted by the DNR show that the mountain lions spotted in the Upper and Lower Peninsula may have migrated to the area from other states, such as Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
Furthermore, the chances of encountering a mountain lion at home or in the wild are low. But if you ever encounter one, don’t run or play dead. Instead, make yourself big and stronger. Stand tall, spread and wave your arms.
You can even talk loud to scare the mountain lion, but if you ever get attacked, get ready to fight back. Finally, don’t turn your back on a mountain lion. You can move backwards slowly.