Are There Mountain Lions In Michigan? Everything You Need To Know

Mountain Lions In Michigan

If you thought the panther, puma, mountain lion, and catamount were all different cats, think again! These are just different ways to refer to the mountain lion- a cat species from the Americas. These tan-colored cats are difficult to observe because of their ninja-like manner. They hunt in stealth mode and tend to stay away from the prying eyes of humans. But do they reside in Michigan? Let’s Find Out!

Are There Mountain Lions In Michigan?

Centuries ago, mountain lions dominated the feline landscape of the U.S. They roamed the entire country and had an established presence in almost every state. However, once humans came into the picture, mountain lion populations suffered. Thousands were hunted and killed, and slowly, many states became completely mountain lion-less.

Until the early 1900s, Michigan too had a population of unbothered mountain lions. They would hunt and eat as they pleased until they started preying on the livestock of Michigan settlers. 

The big cats were deemed a threat, so they were killed and eventually driven out of the state. Today, there are no native mountain lions in Michigan. However, in recent years, there have been many sightings in different parts of the state.

How Many Mountain Lions Are In The State Of Michigan?

Michigan hasn’t had its own mountain lion population since the early 1900s. In fact, that’s when they disappeared from most eastern states. Today, the majority of U.S. mountain lions live in western states like Colorado and California. In Michigan, the last known cougar that was legally taken was in 1906, near Newberry.

Mountain lions often live in rocky canyons, rugged mountains, or dense forests. While they have their preferences, they are not too picky with their choice of habitats. They are experts in adapting to any kind of environment and making it their home. 

Currently, there are no mountain lions in Michigan. However, there have been numerous reports of sightings over the past decade.

Where Can Cougars Be Found In Michigan?

Mountain Lions In Michigan

Looking at the many cougar sightings that have happened, it’s believable that there may be a mountain lion population in Michigan. However, don’t get your hopes up just yet. There isn’t any scientific evidence to support that idea. 

The Wildlife Division of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources conducts annual surveys every winter. They track the movement of wolves and other similar animals in northern Michigan and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In case a mountain lion lives in either of those parts, it will be discovered through this survey. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

The Department has also never released any cougars into the wild and doesn’t plan on doing so anytime soon.

How Big Are Michigan Mountain Lions?

Mountain lions may not technically classify as “big cats,” but compared to domestic cats, they are quite large. Adults have a horizontal body length of around 5-6 feet- two-thirds of which is their tail. 

Their long tails usually have a black tip, while the rest of their bodies are tan with white underbellies. They weigh around 90 to 180 pounds, depending on their age and gender. However, there have been cases where healthier males have touched 200 pounds!

Their size doesn’t stop them from being sneaky! During the day, they live in solitude away from humans and urban life. At night, they are skilled ambush hunters with the ability to kill their prey with a single neck bite. They mainly hunt deer, but may also eat smaller prey from time to time. 

Mountain Lion Sightings In Michigan?

From 2008 to 2022, there have been 82 confirmed mountain lion sightings in Michigan. Based on the evidence, experts believe that these could be the ones who have escaped captivity. Or, they could be males that have traveled all the way from North Dakota or South Dakota.

The first confirmed mountain lion sighting in Michigan was in Delta. Since then, they have been spotted in 14 different counties, including Dickinson, Luce, and Chippewa. Despite these many sightings, there is still no evidence that any of these mountain lions are here to stay.

To report a mountain lion sighting, a simple photograph may not be enough. There needs to be physical evidence like track marks or carcasses. All sightings can be reported to Michigan’s DNR.

Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.

Can You Shoot A Mountain Lion In Michigan?

Mountain Lions In Michigan

Michigan may not have any mountain lions, but there are certain laws to protect them nonetheless. Mountain lions are considered an endangered species, so unnecessarily putting them in danger is unlawful. Illegally killing a mountain lion in Michigan can result in a hefty fine or even jail time.

However, there are exceptions. According to Michigan law, citizens are permitted to shoot and kill mountain lions only in the context of self-defense. If anyone sees a mountain lion attack their livestock, pets, or even another human, shooting at it can be justified. 

Can You Own A Mountain Lion/Cougar In Michigan?

It is illegal to own a mountain lion in Michigan. Mountain lions are wild cats, not pets. You can take the cougar out of the wild, but it’s difficult to take the “wild” out of the cougar. Their solitary nature makes them difficult, and even dangerous, to bond with. They are also extremely territorial and need a lot of space to roam around.

Not all U.S. states prohibit owning a mountain lion. In some states like Delaware and Maine, you can own a cougar as long as you have a permit. Other states like Wisconsin and Alabama don’t even require that.

What Other Big Cats Live In Michigan?

Apart from mountain lions, Michigan is home to bobcats and Canada lynx. Bobcats, also called the red lynx, are the most common cat there. Every Michigan county has seen its share of bobcats at some time or the other, especially in the upper peninsula. They are slightly smaller than mountain lions, with reddish-brown fur. They are usually 2-3 feet long. Like mountain lions, bobcats choose solitude over community. 

The Canadian lynx is also a medium-sized wild cat found in Michigan. They are close relatives of bobcats and resemble them in most features. They normally have gray fur which they shed during summertime. Canadian lynx are even more rare to spot than mountain lions, and there have only been a handful of sightings in the past decades.

Also, Read About Mountain Lions in Massachusetts


And that was everything about the Mountain Lion In Michigan. I hope this article answers your questions.

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