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E-M:/ Press Release Regarding Cougar Population in Michigan

Below are two press releases regarding the cougar population in Michigan, including where to obtain further information.
Thank you,
Mike DePolo (MWC Trustee)


July 26, 2004                                                               Dennis Fijalkowski 517-641-7677

                                                                                                                Pat Rusz 989-865-6701    





BATH -- The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy (MWC) today released what it believes is additional physical evidence of a breeding cougar population in Michigan.  The MWC’s latest video of wild cougars was taken by Carol Stokes on the evening of April 24, 2004, and for the first time documents two cougars in the same frame.  This strongly suggests a breeding cougar population, because the big cat is a solitary animal except when raising young.  The video was shot near Ottawa Lake, MI, in Western Monroe County, near where observations of cougars by animal control officers, police and citizens have been reported in recent years. 


The MWC concluded the two cats were cougars based on three physical characteristics of the animals in the video:


1.      Their large size: even at more than 300 yards from the camera, the viewer can tell these are large, heavy-bodied cats.

2.      Their color: these cats are identically colored, have black-tipped tails (shows on most monitors) and are very typical for cougars.

3.      Their tails are at least 1/3 of their total body lengths – longer than most house cats, or any other kind of cat known to exist in Michigan.


To accurately assess the size of the cats, other videos taken of a deer in the same tree line and a nearly 6’ man walking the tree line were used to compare scale.  The MWC used a large tree as a common size reference to allow for an accurate comparison between other objects in the videos, including a deer, the cougars, and a 6-foot tall man.  Analyses indicate the larger cougar is approximately 6 ˝’ long.  The other cat is approximately 5 ˝’ long.  The MWC believes the larger cougar to be an adult female and the smaller cat her nearly-grown cub.  The video can be viewed on the Conservancy’s website www.miwildlife.org by clicking on Cougar Video on the homepage.


“It is important to acknowledge cougars in our state so that Michigan develops an effective management and protection program,” said Conservancy President R. Charles McLravy of East Lansing.  “With acknowledgement, we can also start to educate our

citizens about this large predator, and how to live with them.”


The MWC, a non-profit group based in Bath near Lansing, has been researching Michigan cougars since early 1998.  By late 2000 it concluded that substantial evidence pointed to a wild, resident and breeding population of cougars in both Peninsulas.  Since the MWC released its initial findings in March of 2001, the Conservancy has found or uncovered many sets of cougar tracks, excellent still photographs, several videos taken by citizens, 10 cougar DNA confirmations from scats (droppings) picked up in eight counties, and a cougar skull from Chippewa County.


To receive information about cougars in Michigan or to report a cougar sighting contact the MWC at (517) 641-7677, wildlife@miwildlife.org , or www.miwildlife.org.




Editors Note: Cougar photos and other evidence can be obtained electronically by contacting the Conservancy office.  Three still photographs from the Carol Stokes video are also available electronically.



July 26, 2004                                                               Dennis Fijalkowski 517-641-7677

                                                                                                                Dr. Pat Rusz 989-865-6701






BATH -- The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy (MWC) has reprinted its brochure called “Living With Cougars In Michigan,” which provides information about our state’s least understood predator – the cougar.  Thousands of Michigan residents have reported cougar sightings, but few understand the basic biology and behavior of the big cats.  The popular brochure provides tips on living in cougar country, including recommendations to follow should one encounter a cougar while on foot.


Police agencies, animal control officers, outdoor recreationists and many joggers have asked the Conservancy to produce an educational brochure about cougars for citizens.  Some are concerned about the cougar population being dangerous to humans, which it isn’t!  The predators have lived in Michigan for thousands of years, without recorded incident.  The likelihood of encountering a cougar in the wild is extremely low and should be viewed as a life experience.  Humans need to show respect for the cougar and take steps to help protect it.



More than six years ago, the MWC began uncovering evidence of cougars in our state.  Many biologists and wildlife officials presumed cougars – also known as mountain lions – had vanished nearly a century before.  But the Conservancy discovered information that strongly suggested that the species survived the persecution and habitat changes of the late 1800s and early 1900s.  To explore that possibility, the MWC started a program of field research in 2001.  Data gathered in those studies confirmed that Michigan has a small cougar population and that it probably suffers from in-breeding and illegal killing.


Since World War II, Michigan’s human population has increased greatly, and the associated development has not necessarily “driven out” cougars.  The big predators have remained in some areas, especially around large swamps.  They readily cross roads, walk through yards and farm fields, and often show disinterest in cars or humans.  This behavior is typical of cougars throughout their North American range.  The brochure states that cougars and people can and do frequent the same areas without incident!  Danger to pets, livestock, and humans from cougars in our state is minimal. 


Single copies of the brochure will be mailed free to individuals who send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, P.O. Box 393, Bath, MI 48808.  The brochure is available in large quantities at no charge by calling the MWC at 517-641-7677 or by e-mail at wildlife@miwildlife.org.  Teachers can obtain other useful educational materials about cougars by calling the MWC or on the web at www.miwildlife.org.  “Living With Cougars In Michigan” was made possible by the Mauser Harmony With Nature Foundation and the Traverse City Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited.



Michigan Wildlife Conservancy
PO Box 393
6380 Drumheller Rd.
Bath, MI 48808
Phone: 517-641-7677
Fax: 517-641-7877
Become a member of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy today! Your gift will help
save our natural heritage for future generations and support our environmental training
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or learn of other member benefits, visit www.miwildlife.org.