Cougar sighting confirmed in Marquette County

PROWLING THE U.P.—A cougar stalks just outside a residence in Delta County, north of Saint Jacques on Sept. 22. This sighting, caught on a trail camera, marks the fifth confirmed case of a cougar in the U.P this year and is closely followed by a Marquette County sighting.

PROWLING THE U.P.—A cougar stalks just outside a residence in Delta County, north of Saint Jacques on Sept. 22. This sighting, caught on a trail camera, marks the fifth confirmed case of a cougar in the U.P this year and is closely followed by a Marquette County sighting.

Akasha Khalsa

Seen any big cats around lately? Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed a total of six cougar sightings in the U.P. this year, the most recent of which was located in southern Marquette County. 

The recent sighting occurred on Oct. 6 in Marquette County, about 11 miles away from a previous sighting on Sept. 18 in Delta County, indicating that it may have been the same animal recorded twice consecutively, DNR Large Carnivore Specialist and NMU graduate student Cody Norton said.

“You can kind of track the Delta and then the southern Marquette cougars getting caught on multiple trail cameras. That’s probably what it is,” Norton said.

Given that the year has entered into hunting season, it is expected that this cougar, which is likely still in the area, will be caught on screen again by more trail cameras, Norton said. Although some residents of the area may be concerned about the carnivorous cat prowling the area, Norton said there is likely no need for fear.

“People live in places where there are high densities of cougars and nothing much usually happens,” Norton said.

If one encounters a cougar, however, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. The DNR recommends to act tough towards the animal and to try to appear large, waving your arms and using a loud voice, according to their website.

Of the six cougars seen this year in the U.P., three were in Delta County, one was in Gogebic County, one was on Ontonagon County and the other was in Marquette County.

It is unclear whether the cougar in southern Marquette County was male or female, as the DNR would need DNA from the animal to determine the sex of the cat. 

The number of sightings this year is higher than the average of just over three cats per year, and it is nearing the all-time high of sightings, which was seven per year. Norton predicted that as the years go on, sightings will increase in the U.P. due to the fact that more and more people have trail cameras out on their properties because technology is becoming more affordable and accessible. 

The western United States cougar populations which contribute to the cougars roaming the U.P. are also growing over time, making it possible that the number of cougars  in the U.P. each year is increasing.