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Posted: 1/24/2006 8:28:00 AM EDT
Not far away here in Northern Indiana we have a lot of sightings too.

January 24. 2006 6:59AM

Big cats big issue in Berrien
Another cougar reportedly sighted at Warren Dunes


LOU MUMFORD
Tribune Staff Writer



BERRIEN SPRINGS -- Is Berrien County cougar country?

State lawmakers are probably no closer to answering that question today than they were Monday, when they hosted a meeting regarding reports of cougars in southwestern Michigan.

But at least county residents know now what to do if they spy a cougar, and how to protect themselves and their livestock.


State Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, said after the meeting, attended by roughly 100 people at the conference center of the Berrien Intermediate School District, that he's hoping future cougar sightings or encounters will be promptly reported to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"We need to get the DNR involved to see exactly what we're dealing with. Then we'll go from there,'' said Proos, who hosted the session with state Reps. Neal Nitz, R-Baroda, and Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton.

The meeting seemed to pit the DNR, an agency skeptical of the existence of cougars in the county, against supporters of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. The latter organization went on record in November stating a horse killed in northern Berrien was the victim of a cougar.

Coincidentally, said Val Grimes, the county's animal control manager, she was summoned Sunday to another cougar report at Warren Dunes State Park near Bridgman. After interviewing the couple that reported the sighting and observing the animal's tracks, Grimes said she was convinced the animal was a cougar.

"I don't want to alarm anybody ... but the people were pretty confident in what they had seen,'' she said. "They had had a deer killed (nearby) within two or three weeks.''

Later, Bridgman resident Alan Zilke said he had recently tracked a cougar near Warren Dunes.

"It came within 5 feet of a couple of homes,'' he said.

Warren Dunes is well over 20 miles south of the Hagar Shores area, where the horse was attacked in November. Grimes said the horse essentially had its faced ripped off, and she's certain neither coyotes nor dogs were responsible.

"I've never seen anything quite as brutal,'' she said.

Baroda veterinarian Mark Johnson examined the horse after it was exhumed and said the horse's injuries were far too severe to have been inflicted by a coyote.

"This was an attack caused by a large cat,'' he said.

But Dave Bostick, wildlife biologist with the Michigan DNR, disagreed. He pointed out that had a cougar killed the horse, it probably would kill other horses as well, making it unusual that there have been no similar incidents in the area.

"My best guess is that (the horse attack) was the result of one or more very large dogs,'' he said.

Bostick's agency took a bashing from Denise Massey. Reading a statement issued by the Wildlife Conservancy, she accused the DNR of taking a "head in the sand'' stance on the issue following its "premature declaration'' in the early 1980s that Michigan had no cougars.

Allegan resident Jeff Gouker also took issue with the DNR, arguing it failed to follow through on his report that a 4-month-old colt on his property was killed by a cougar. To back his position, Gouker displayed copies of a fence-line videotape that appeared to show a cougar in the foreground.

In his defense, Bostick said he had investigated Gouker's report and had concluded "it was probably a big cat attack.''

Several Berrien residents also reported observing big cats, with the Rev. Russell Panico, of Three Oaks, providing the most compelling account. He said he observed a black panther on his property in April 2005, and he and his wife later heard "the most blood curdling cry'' imaginable.

Still, Bostick guessed that any big cats in the county, rather than being born in the wild, may have been owned privately and perhaps were released after their owners tired of them.

"It's illegal to keep them. but that doesn't mean it isn't done,'' he said.

He said livestock owners can take safeguards by keeping their animals confined at night. For humans, he said running away is the worst thing to do, as it will trigger the cat's chase instinct.

Bostick said people should face the animal and make themselves look as large and intimidating as possible, by lifting and waving their arms. Shouting also is likely to discourage a cougar, he said.

He said male cougars have a range as far as 400 miles and do most of their foraging at night. Their diet would include white-tailed deer and small animals such as raccoons, he said.

Bostick said he "firmly believes'' there are cougars in Michigan, but only a few.

"The issue is where do they come from and what do we do about it,'' he said.

Staff writer Lou Mumford:
lmumford@sbtinfo.com
(269) 687-7002
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 8:32:05 AM EDT
get cocked locked and ready to rock
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 8:54:49 AM EDT

Originally Posted By akethan:

"My best guess is that (the horse attack) was the result of one or more very large dogs,'' he said.




Yeah right.

I had a friend in Marine City MI that owned a horse ranch and 9 horses. She also owned 2 Buviars. The dogs used to harass the horses from time to time, and the none of the horses had any misgivings about charging or bitting the dogs. I think it would take more than a couple of dogs to tear a horse to shreds.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 10:55:48 AM EDT
A couple of years ago I remember some cougar sightings in Zionsville, IN just North of Indianapolis. The local sheriff was interviewed by the paper and said in effect, "Since we do not have cougar in Indiana, there are no game laws governing hunting them. Also any citizen has the right to defend themselves should they feel threatened." In other words, "Lock and Load."

I hear two DNR officers talking and one of them said that he had a pretty good idea where the cats came from. They had visited a guy who had several exotic animals and warned him that he needed to get rid of them or get the paperwork. Next time they dropped by, the guy had no cats, but he also had no record of sale or anything. They were pretty sure the guy just dumped them all in the woods.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 11:09:45 AM EDT
There have been sitings in SE michigan also. Macomb/Shelby townships.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 11:10:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/24/2006 11:12:37 AM EDT by XDBACKUPGUN]
One of my Favorite Coyote Hunting Spots is now impossible to hunt because of cougars.
The last 3 times I have gone out around 5am and hunted for only an hour or so before a Cougar comes in to my decoy and call. I am convinced they are scaring away the coyotes. I cannot shoot the cougar, I have had my sights on him every time and he has come within 30 yards of me. He would look good as a Rug with his head attached still.


ETA. I am about 45 minutes North of the Twin Cities and the spot is about 15 minute NE of were I live.
I have seen Cougar tracks along the Rum River in my backyard.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 11:12:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By akethan:

"My best guess is that (the horse attack) was the result of one or more very large dogs,'' he said.




Yeah right.

I had a friend in Marine City MI that owned a horse ranch and 9 horses. She also owned 2 Buviars. The dogs used to harass the horses from time to time, and the none of the horses had any misgivings about charging or bitting the dogs. I think it would take more than a couple of dogs to tear a horse to shreds.



My next door neighbor lost a horse to a couple of dogs. The horse got worked up because it couldn't get away and it's intestines got twisted. It went down and the dogs were able to get to it. They didn't kill it from ripping it apart, but it died from the intestinal problem.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 11:13:20 AM EDT
They are all over the place in California. Reports of them in someone's backyard in the San Fernando Valley are fairly frequent. I had one in my backyard a few years ago.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 3:38:48 PM EDT
Bump for the night crew.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:10:52 PM EDT
Dang I wouldnt hesitate to kill something like that if it even came close. If I was in one of those areas id carry a gun EVERYWHERE.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:49:40 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/24/2006 4:51:28 PM EDT by snarfbatt]
Hell we have had sighting in Southern Indiana.
We have a large area of old strip mined land that is almost to rough and steep to walk and is heavily forested, much 50+ years old. One of the DNR guys told me that their office was trying to restore several types of predators to this area to control the deer population.
We had one outside of the small town in my last LEO job. I was one of the confirmed sightings of a large cat, based on the size of the prints, the length of the gate in the snow the DNR estimated it to be a 6 footer and about 110 lbs. I tracked that one on the 4h fairgrounds in the snow untill I got into a remote area and started seeing the cats tracks in my boot prints when we doubled back. I had a 1911 and a mossy 500 with 8 shots of buck and slugs and was alone. Thats when I decided that tracking something that could have me for lunch alone was not a good idea. Near the same area I was checking a building at about o dark thirty when the damn thing let out a scream from about 200 yards away, I just about pissed myself.
On the good side the cat was very good controlling the stray dog population.
On the bad side it started on the horses and sheep and calfs just outside of town. We accepted calls for the Sherriff department due to location and lack of run volume. And if you have ever seen the site of a large cat kill on a farm animal you will never forget it, absolutly fucking brutal.
They are out there
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:55:42 PM EDT
interesting. read an article about it a couple weeks ago. If they're reproducing, I'm not sure if it's good or bad.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:57:50 PM EDT
I agree with ya Snarblatt the scream is bone chilling.

The one, I think is the same one, that has come into my decoy and call screamed once while it was looking right at me. It did not see me I was hunkered down along the edge of a clearing with a ghille suit on. I think it could smell me. It was in the kill zone and my 870 slug gun with Federal Barnes Xpander Sabots would have done the job. I started carry the 870 along with my AR after I started seeing tracks and scat in the area I hunt Coyotes.

But they are not legal to shoot in Minnesota as of yet.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:57:54 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:03:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/24/2006 5:05:17 PM EDT by OFFascist]
Cats are cool.

[edit]There are wild animals out in the wild, who would have thunk. [/edit]

BTW Jaguars > Cougars.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:14:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:
There are confirmed reports throughout Missouri. They are the only thing I hate more than wolves.



and for several years they told us "its just bobcats", and they also told us black bear werent here. I have never seen either myself, but i have friends that have, and i have seen tracks and signs of both.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:23:00 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:24:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/24/2006 5:27:11 PM EDT by mwood65]
Gosh damn it !! I told them...

I lived in Berrien County most of my life till I was in my mid 20's around 1985. Walking one night near my house I saw a LARGE black panther cross the highway about 100 yards in front of me, I froze not beleaving what I saw and after it crossed the road I ran as fast home as I could. I called the sherriff's department to report it and the cop laughed at me and hung up. I always wondered about that. I spotted that one in Stevensville, Mi. which is about 15 miles North of Warren Dunes and about 20 miles south of Hager Shores (where I lived for alot of years).

Crazy shit !!!!!!!!!!!
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:39:31 PM EDT
This is certainly not the first that I have heard about big cats being in SW Michigan. My dad is a deputy for Kalamazoo Co, and he told me of a sighting of a black panther in Paw Paw (I think). It seems interesting to me that not only are there cougar sightings, but sightings of black panthers as well. With so many reports of big cats coming in, I would find it highly unlikely that this is BS.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:41:58 PM EDT
I just read "The Beast In The Garden" by David Baron and I heartily recommend it. These cats are expanding out of the West and most of the old theories about them don't apply anymore. They're acclimated to humans and do not fear canines (in fact they're a preferred snack). Check it out. The excerpt from the prologue is particularly chilling.

The Beast In The Garden
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:05:23 PM EDT
Had a small run in with one this deer season.

Myself and 2 friends were dragging a deer out in the dark about 1/2 mile from the truck. We would stop for a break and could hear something behind us in the woods following.

Figured it was a yote or wolf because it snapped a branch. A little to clumsy for a cat, we thought.

Well, about 150 yards from the truck we had a creek crossing. after all 3 of us had crossed the light was shined back to the other side and there were the WIDESPREAD bright yellow eyeballs in the brush on the opposite bank.

Not cool. Cat had been following us the entire way.

One guy covered out asses while me and the other guy hauled ass with the deer.

Pretty spooky to say the least. A cat will fuck you up to get what it wants, dont matter. WHere as a wolf or yote can be scared off.

Have seen a couple of them up here.......
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:30:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Wdsman:
A couple of years ago I remember some cougar sightings in Zionsville, IN just North of Indianapolis. The local sheriff was interviewed by the paper and said in effect, "Since we do not have cougar in Indiana, there are no game laws governing hunting them. Also any citizen has the right to defend themselves should they feel threatened." In other words, "Lock and Load."

I hear two DNR officers talking and one of them said that he had a pretty good idea where the cats came from. They had visited a guy who had several exotic animals and warned him that he needed to get rid of them or get the paperwork. Next time they dropped by, the guy had no cats, but he also had no record of sale or anything. They were pretty sure the guy just dumped them all in the woods.




quite plausable. here in florida we have monkeys and exotic cats running loose. we even have locally a nile monitor infestation. I know of atleast 1 ocelot running about.

quick guess which country has the worls largest tiger population?

US. about 20k.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:36:13 PM EDT
"If it bleeds, we can kill it." --Predator
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:38:29 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:43:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:

Originally Posted By BenP:
One guy covered out asses while me and the other guy hauled ass with the deer.



I bet dragging a deer is MUCH easier with a quart of adrenaline split two ways. hr


LOL. Yes. A lot of ground at a high rate of speed.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:49:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/24/2006 6:50:00 PM EDT by OFFascist]

Originally Posted By SkyCatII:
This is certainly not the first that I have heard about big cats being in SW Michigan. My dad is a deputy for Kalamazoo Co, and he told me of a sighting of a black panther in Paw Paw (I think). It seems interesting to me that not only are there cougar sightings, but sightings of black panthers as well. With so many reports of big cats coming in, I would find it highly unlikely that this is BS.



Panthers can be any kind of cat as long as it is black.

Althought its more common for say a jaguar to be a panther than say a puma.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:49:47 PM EDT
Well, I used to call BS on this stuff til last summer while I was down in Manchester Mi. Almost to the outskirts of the city when a Cougar loped across the road in front of me and went into the woods. This was in broad daylight at about 11:30AM. I guarantee it was not a dog, and considering the tail was about 3+feet long and it crossed the street in about 1 bound it sure the hell was not soem puddy tat. I did talk with the Sheriff there and he said there had been reported sightings in the past but none for a month or so. Said it was possible it was a released animal from a drug dealer. However, since we have had a horse killed by a cougar locally and it has been seen and verified, I'm starting to wonder just how many are out there myself.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:52:29 PM EDT
We've been seeing large cat sign in our deer hunting area near Outing, MN for a few years now. Makes the hunt more interesting know there is a large predator in the area. Maybe one day I'll get a look at it.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:54:08 PM EDT
I'm originally from Sturgis, Michigan - South of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

They have been sighted several times all around that area.

My grandmother was interviewed by a reporter for one of her close encounters (it was right up by her back porch steps) where she feeds her (regular) cats.

When she turned on the porch light she saw the tail, then tracks of course.

They are there, yet DNR continues to deny - much like Missouri Dept of Conservation has done here.

I'd like to meet the Einstein that decided to "re-introduce" these big cats back into such heavily populated areas.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:56:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SkyCatII:
This is certainly not the first that I have heard about big cats being in SW Michigan. My dad is a deputy for Kalamazoo Co, and he told me of a sighting of a black panther in Paw Paw (I think). It seems interesting to me that not only are there cougar sightings, but sightings of black panthers as well. With so many reports of big cats coming in, I would find it highly unlikely that this is BS.




Paw Paw is not in Kalamazoo county.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 7:01:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By topknot:
I'd like to meet the Einstein that decided to "re-introduce" these big cats back into such heavily populated areas.



Heh, IMO there aint nothing wrong with thinning the heard a bit.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 7:06:40 PM EDT
My cousin raised one in her home. Here it is. My cousin is on the left.

Link Posted: 1/24/2006 7:12:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By topknot:
I'm originally from Sturgis, Michigan - South of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

They have been sighted several times all around that area.

My grandmother was interviewed by a reporter for one of her close encounters (it was right up by her back porch steps) where she feeds her (regular) cats.

When she turned on the porch light she saw the tail, then tracks of course.

They are there, yet DNR continues to deny - much like Missouri Dept of Conservation has done here.

I'd like to meet the Einstein that decided to "re-introduce" these big cats back into such heavily populated areas.



Shoot it, say "I was in fear for my life" and then lets see them deny it.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 7:17:46 PM EDT
Seen tracks up here. Thing I am most afraid of when I go out tin the forest. Plenty of wolves and black bear up here now also. Both are starting to cause some problems. I like having them around but their populations have really taken off in the last 10 years or so. More every year and prey populations are starting to drop. Might get interesting.

The Cougars I fear most though. I am always armed and I think I would rather take on a wolf pack than a cougar. I at least figure I will see the wolves before they are on me. I get more cuatious every year as I spend a LOT of time in the forest. Run into plenty of critters. Here is one.



I couldn't believe how fast that thing moved. Incredible.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 7:56:03 PM EDT
There are lots of cougars here in Washington state. They're all over where I keep my horse. I always carry a pistol, but then I'd carry it anyway. Biggest thing cougars here kill is a calf, goat or sheep (or a jogger). If it's close enough to shoot with my pistol it's a danger and I will. Report it? huh?
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 8:08:57 PM EDT
been some rumors of big cats in north ga. cougars. panthers. whatever. lots of deer in north ga. too many in some places so i wouldna be suprised if there are a few big cats around too.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 8:16:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By drjarhead:
snip

photos.ar15.com/ImageGallery/Attachments/DownloadAttach.asp?iImageUnq=43676

I couldn't believe how fast that thing moved. Incredible.



Evidently, not fast enough, Doc.

Link Posted: 1/24/2006 8:33:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By samsong:

Originally Posted By drjarhead:
snip

photos.ar15.com/ImageGallery/Attachments/DownloadAttach.asp?iImageUnq=43676

I couldn't believe how fast that thing moved. Incredible.



Evidently, not fast enough, Doc.




One of those deals where adrenalin puts everything into slow motion, I guess. All I know is I thought and moved as fast as I ever have and I had less than a second before it would have been on me when I pumped 3 shots rapid fire into the vitals. Not bad for an old man. I still got it!

Link Posted: 1/24/2006 9:20:04 PM EDT
I've got a cabin here in Michigan that is between Westbranch and Gladwin. We have been out and around in the woods all around there, and have seen Coyote tracks, Big dog tracks (Wild I think), and a few bobcat tracks. Two years ago we found the biggest cat tracks I'd ever seen here in Michigan. We took note of landmarks, and went back to call the DNR. The guy we met was very sure that "Oh no, it's not a cat!" it was just a dog, or a weathered print.....Well While I'm not an Indian scout or anything, I know what a fresh track looks like! I also know what a dog print looks like, and this was no damn dog print!

We asked around at the local shops, and were told that a few hunters & locals have found the same thing, but are always (basically) laughed at by the DNR. There is something >Big< out there, I think it's a released pet, but I still carry whenever I'm out.

Tall Shadow
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 11:35:28 PM EDT
I know a police officer here around Flint, Mi. that saw one standing on a berm behind the car wash. He took a lot of crap over reporting that sighting.

The DNR's in the states where they are reestablishing themselves wont admit they exist because they are still listed as endangered species. If they admit that they have a breeding, wild population they are required by fed. law to fund programs. Most states just dont have the money to start a whole new wildlife program for cougars so they wont/cant admit to having them.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 3:46:43 AM EDT
crosses 'walking around without a gun in the woods at the 80 or the cabin' off the list.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:25:24 AM EDT

Originally Posted By bobwrench:

Originally Posted By SkyCatII:
This is certainly not the first that I have heard about big cats being in SW Michigan. My dad is a deputy for Kalamazoo Co, and he told me of a sighting of a black panther in Paw Paw (I think). It seems interesting to me that not only are there cougar sightings, but sightings of black panthers as well. With so many reports of big cats coming in, I would find it highly unlikely that this is BS.




Paw Paw is not in Kalamazoo county.



I know that, but KCSD was alerted to it, because Paw Paw isn't too far away from here. Cougars have a 400mi range.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:37:14 AM EDT

Originally Posted By fxntime:
Well, I used to call BS on this stuff til last summer while I was down in Manchester Mi. Almost to the outskirts of the city when a Cougar loped across the road in front of me and went into the woods. This was in broad daylight at about 11:30AM. I guarantee it was not a dog, and considering the tail was about 3+feet long and it crossed the street in about 1 bound it sure the hell was not soem puddy tat. I did talk with the Sheriff there and he said there had been reported sightings in the past but none for a month or so. Said it was possible it was a released animal from a drug dealer. However, since we have had a horse killed by a cougar locally and it has been seen and verified, I'm starting to wonder just how many are out there myself.



No wonder i dont see any rabbits out there anymore.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:51:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By C-4:
"If it bleeds, we can kill it." --Predator



[jimbo]"It's coming right for us!"[/jimbo]

Seriously, I have seen an immature cougar in a national park here in southern AZ. Just sauntering across the road while I was cycling in the park. Let me tell you that I kicked up the pace a bit.

Geoff
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:53:03 AM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By akethan:

"My best guess is that (the horse attack) was the result of one or more very large dogs,'' he said.




Yeah right.

I had a friend in Marine City MI that owned a horse ranch and 9 horses. She also owned 2 Buviars. The dogs used to harass the horses from time to time, and the none of the horses had any misgivings about charging or bitting the dogs. I think it would take more than a couple of dogs to tear a horse to shreds.



Feral dogs can be nasty, very nasty.

Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:56:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:
Yup--the problem is, there are just too many people who are FOS. I have seen bobcat tracks on my farm (Macon Co.) and my neighbor across the road has seen several bobcats (he lives there full time, I'm only there weekends and don't have time to spend watching out the windows), and has seen mountain lions more than once. He had a dumbass sitting in a deer stand with one <100 yards away--and he didn't shoot it. "I didn't know if it was legal to shoot."

He had another one just below his cabin a couple of months ago. He had a guest there who took a shot and SHOULD have killed it--but the cat ran back into the woods. No blood/hair--dunno if it was hit or not.

The bears have supposedly not made it north of the Missouri river so far. As a beekeeper I REALLY hope they don't.



True story:

A woman I know was working on some dinner when her small grandaughter came in and told her about a big pretty "kitty" that was in the back yard. She humors the little girl (six years old) and goes outside and sees a mountain lion lying on the top of her wood pile, looking her right in the eye.

"Holy crap!" I responded "What did you kill it with??"

"Kill it?? Why would I kill it?"

Some people have no sense of survival. Mountain lions are reclusive creatures who avoid humans....normally.....When they do not appear afraid of people, you have a problem on your hands.

A big, fierce problem.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:58:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By OFFascist:
Panthers can be any kind of cat as long as it is black.

Althought its more common for say a jaguar to be a panther than say a puma.



There are lots of exotic cats loose in the wild. People obtain an animal illegally, it gets too big to manage, and then they turn it loose in the woods.

Cats are survivors, so they usually do pretty well.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 5:02:18 AM EDT
i bet the DNR let the dame things lose to help cut down the deer herd.
just like the coyotes in the 80's to cut down the rabbits.

i don't put it past them.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 5:18:43 AM EDT
I have been following the reports of cougars in SW MI pretty closely - I live north of Grand Rapids.

As far as Cougars statewide - they are definitely here. I was fortunate enough to see one cross I-75 in the UP right near the Chippewa/Mackinac county line right in front of my car. That was a BIG kitty that took up 2/3 of the highway lane, big tail, muscles galore, big paws, WOW - I was just (and remain) thrilled to see one - and that was at a time when the MI DNR adamantly refused to acknowledge their existance.

My dad worked for the DNR and then the DEQ for a number of years, he still might have been doing so at that point, but the DNR office in the UP wasn't interested at all in hearing about a cougar report.

I spoke with an Indian man who lived in southern Chippewa county (in the UP) and he said that there have always been cougars in the Great Cedar Swamp - near the place that I spotted one.

I will also add this - there is bad blood and open hostility between the DNR and some of the "cougar evidence" groups, so I take the rhetoric of both sides with a grain of salt.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 1:46:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/25/2006 2:05:15 PM EDT by akethan]

Originally Posted By topknot:
I'm originally from Sturgis, Michigan - South of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

They have been sighted several times all around that area.

My grandmother was interviewed by a reporter for one of her close encounters (it was right up by her back porch steps) where she feeds her (regular) cats.

When she turned on the porch light she saw the tail, then tracks of course.

They are there, yet DNR continues to deny - much like Missouri Dept of Conservation has done here.

I'd like to meet the Einstein that decided to "re-introduce" these big cats back into such heavily populated areas.




A former employee claims to have seen a panther in Vandalia MI, near Sturgis.

More evidence

of cougars cited

BATH -- Video footage of a pair of mountain lions in Michigan's western Monroe County was reported by the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. The video is further physical evidence of a breeding cougar population in Michigan, according to the conservancy.

The video was shot by Carol Stokes on the evening of April 24. It's the first time two Michigan cougars were shot in the same frame, according to the conservancy, which said the footage strongly suggests a breeding cougar population because the big cat is a solitary animal except when raising young.

Analysis indicates the larger cougar is approximately 6 1/2 feet long. 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."

Big cats can cause ruckus
Published: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 -- The Truth, A3
Last updated: 7/4/2005 10:49:02 PM
By DL Perrin
Truth Correspondent



Big cats -- puma and cougar -- stories make their rounds as seasons change. Someone saw tracks. Someone heard something. "Someones" give the news to neighbors and friends to beware.

Phyllis Poole is a someone.

Poole saw tracks of a big cat that jumped her fence to eat bacon grease she set out for the birds several months ago. Poole's immediate concern was and continues to be for the safety of small children at neighboring farms.

She put her phone number in a local free paper and asked for people to call her if they had seen a big cat. "A lot, a lot of people called me to say they, too, had seen cats," Poole said.

Poole owns a 100-pound shepherd dog and she used its paws as a size comparison to the cat's tracks left on her deck. "My dog's paws were about one-third the size of those cat tracks," Poole said.

Judy Loven, Indiana's director for USDA Wildlife Service, said big cat sightings do happen, but not as frequently in northern Indiana. "Most likely these sightings are not wild cougars, but exotic pets that have temporarily escaped."

If people were seeing cougars, there would be a pattern of sightings and multiple calls to authorities, Loven said. "But I have learned over the years to never say 'never' where wildlife is concerned."

Still, Loven said, "We occasionally receive reports of large cats in the state, perhaps three to four per year, but have been unable to obtain conclusive evidence."

Indiana Department of Natural Resources, USDA fish and game wildlife nuisance officers and local police all say they have no "official" reports or evidence of big cats in northern Indiana or southern lower Michigan.

Scott Johnson, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources resident biologist, agrees with Loven that big cats people see are most likely exotic pets. "There has been an increase in the number of confirmed cougar reports in the Midwest in recent years. I believe there has been one or two in western Illinois and a handful in Missouri and Iowa -- none, however, in Indiana," Johnson said.

Loven noted that large cats can be kept in captivity in Indiana with proper permits and facilities. "I believe it is unlikely at this point, although not impossible, that there is a wild cougar in Indiana."

Others -- area residents of northern Indiana and southern lower Michigan who'll tell their anecdotes, but not where they live -- think it is possible.

Bob

Bob crouched and dipped his hands into the cool water of the small river flowing through his undeveloped bottomland near the border of Indiana. He looked over at a sand bar popular with local waterfowl. Instead of the usual assortment of birds, he saw piles of downy feathers stirring in the slight breeze.

"Must have been a fox got out there," he remembers thinking. Just then, he felt, more than heard, a sound that made hairs on the back of his neck stand up. "I never saw anything," Bob said.

Being unarmed, Bob backed away from the river's edge and made a hasty retreat back to his truck. "I know it was no coyote or a bobcat, it was a big cat made that sound, I'll never forget it."

Robert

"These big cats are smart," said Robert, a local cattleman. "If you catch a glimpse of one, it is by accident. They are extremely shy of people." Robert believes a big cat ruffled livestock at his barn, leaving them frantic.

"After we settled the stock we went outside to look around and they spotted the tracks. It looked like it had circled the barn about three or four times. I followed the tracks across two fields when I spotted it along the treeline." It took a couple of huge leaps and disappeared into the woods.

"I haven't reported the sightings to anyone because I want them left alone," Robert said.

Melody

One afternoon about 2 p.m., Melody spotted a black panther-like cat slowly meandering down the middle of the county road by her house. It was in no hurry so she had plenty of time to observe it from her window. She said it was taller than her black lab dog and had a long tail.

"It was (young) completely black and sleek with no sign of a sagging belly," Melody recalled. "I chuckled to myself. I watched it for a few minutes until it strolled out of sight toward the woods. I was glad it stayed in the road and didn't veer from its path to bother the horses."

Melody called in the sighting to the sheriff. He didn't come to Melody's home, but said the cat may have been someone's escaped pet.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 2:08:43 PM EDT
A family member of mine has an Alpaca farm in NW (Laporte County) Indiana. Last night something killed two of the cria's (babies) and tore up two adult females pretty bad, but they will live. They think it may have been dog's but it would not surprise me a bit if it was a cougar. Either way they have lost thousands of dollars with the death of the cria's and will have thousands of dollars of vet bill's.
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