The sheer-muscular-looking power of the cougar caught on Keith and Laurie Forche’s trail camera, this month’s cover, can be incredibly intimidating. And we’ve heard plenty of comments, “If that is roaming the U.P., I might skip my evening hike!” So, let’s put that to rest right from the start; Fatal cougar attacks are extremely rare, especially in Michigan! You have a better chance of being killed by lightning, bee stings, or even snake bites. In the past 100 years in North America, there have been 126 cougar attacks, with 27 being fatal. The species in Michigan is listed as endangered and is protected under state law.
Keith said, “I retrieved these photos off my trail camera, and what a surprise!” The Forche’s trail camera is located in SW Luce County in Lakefield Township. A DNR biologist from Newberry came out and verified the photos. A few days before, we received images of a cougar caught on Donald Maury’s trail camera located at his camp in southern Houghton County. Donald also sent the photos to the DNR for verification. In the last 15 years, there have been 90 cougar sightings in Michigan.
The MDNR states, “The cougar typically weighs between 90 and 180 pounds, with a few large males topping 200 pounds. Cougars are tan to brown. Adult cougars are about 5-6 feet long from nose to base of the tail. The tail is long and thick with a black tip. The head is relatively small compared to the body. Cougars are primarily nocturnal, although they can be active during the day. They are solitary and secretive animals that prefer to hunt from cover. Cougars have a relatively short life span–8 to 12 years. Over most of its range, the cougar’s primary wild prey is deer. Cougars are opportunistic predators and will take prey of varying sizes up to and including young moose.
“Cougars, also called mountain lions, were originally native to Michigan but were extirpated from Michigan around the turn of the century. The last known wild cougar legally taken in the state occurred in 1906 near Newberry. There have been periodic reports of cougar sightings since that time from various locations in Michigan. This situation is not unique to Michigan and has also occurred in many other mid-western and eastern states.”
While most sights are believed to be transient cougars wandering from western states, most likely the Dakotas, some cougars can be released or escaped pets. Since 2000 it’s illegal to have a “big cat,” but permits were issued before that date.
Thanks to the Forches and Donald Maury for sharing and inviting all readers to do the same, regardless of species!
Deer regulations approved for 2023-2025 hunting seasons
At June’s meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Roscommon, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the commission approved the regularly scheduled three-year duration of deer regulations, which will be in effect for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 hunting seasons.
DNR deer program experts say that while many of the traditional regulations remain unchanged, there are several important updates aimed at enhancing deer hunting opportunities for Michigan deer hunters this year and beyond.
“There are many challenges facing deer hunting in Michigan and across much of the Midwest in the coming years,” said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer, elk and moose management specialist. “While the approved regulations for the 2023-2025 deer seasons are geared toward increasing opportunities for a declining hunter base, we recognize that we’ll have to continue to evaluate all possible options to sustainably manage Michigan’s deer herd in the future.”Updated regulations include:
• Restricted tag of the deer combo license: The four-point antler point restriction on the restricted tag of the deer combo license has been reinstated in 19 Lower Peninsula counties: Barry, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Lenawee, Mecosta, Midland, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa and Shiawassee. Under the updated regulation, all deer combo licenses in southern Lower Peninsula counties will now have an unrestricted regular tag and a four-point restricted tag.
• Liberty Hunt: Hunters participating in the Liberty Hunt, a firearm deer hunt on private or public land for youth and hunters with disabilities, will now be allowed to harvest more than one deer. While the limit for bucks remains at one, hunters can pursue multiple antlerless deer. It is important to note that a separate license will be required for each deer harvested during this hunt.
• U.P. CWD Surveillance Zone: The Upper Peninsula Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Zone (including parts of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties) has been removed. As a result, hunters in this area can resume baiting and feeding practices. The hunter’s choice antler point regulations, which include an unrestricted tag for the deer license and point restrictions for the regular/restricted tag of the deer combo license, have been reinstated. The restrictions on the deer combo license are three points on a side for the regular tag and four points on a side for the restricted tag.
• Late archery season and crossbows: The proposal to allow crossbows in the late archery season in the Upper Peninsula was rejected. That means hunters are still prohibited from using crossbows during the late archery season in the Upper Peninsula. This includes hunters in the previous CWD Surveillance Zone, where crossbow use in the late archery season had previously been allowed.
• Antlerless harvest in northern DMUs: The proposal to reinstate antlerless harvest opportunities in several northern deer management units (007, 031, 042, 048, 066, 127 and 131) using archery equipment was rejected. Antlerless harvest remains largely prohibited in those units, with exceptions only for qualified individuals during the Liberty Hunt and through Deer Management Assistance Permits, where authorized.
The DNR remains committed to ensuring sustainable and scientifically sound management of the state’s deer population. For more on deer management, hunting opportunities and other resources, visit Michigan.gov/Deer.
Full summaries of approved deer regulations will be available closer to hunting season openers.