The Michigan DNR says this image of a cougar was captured in November 2012 by a trail camera in Marquette County.
LANSING, Mich. (WZZM)- Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has verified three recent trail camera photos of cougars in the Upper Peninsula.
Two of the photos, both of a cougar with a radio collar, were taken in October in Menominee County. One was near Cedar River and one near Menominee just north of the Wisconsin border.
The third photo was taken in northern Marquette County in November. The cougar in the Marquette photo is not wearing a radio collar.
All three photos were taken by trail cameras located on private property and the landowners have asked to remain anonymous. DNR Wildlife Division staff was able to visit each location to confirm the authenticity of the photos.
To date, the DNR has confirmed 11 photos, eight separate sets of tracks, and one trail camera video from 10 Upper Peninsula counties.
Established cougar populations are found as close to Michigan as the Dakotas, and transient cougars dispersing from these areas have been known to travel hundreds of miles in search of new territory.
Cougars, also known as mountain lions, were native to Michigan, but disappeared from the state in the early 1900's. the last confirmed wild cougar in Michigan prior to 2008 was an animal killed near Newberry in 1906.
Cougars are classified as an endangered species in Michigan. It is unlawful to kill, harass or otherwise harm a cougar except in the immediate defense of human safety.