Cougars travel great lengths to find companion, establish territory

MARQUETTE — They’re big, they’re fast and they’re hard to spot. Cougars have been known to roam the Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed 35 cougar reports in the U.P. since 2008, including the two that were poached the last three years.

Those cougars were found to be descendants of cougars with ties to a population east of the Rocky Mountains. Both male cougars likely traveled thousands of miles on their own to the U.P., to find a female cougar to breed with and establish a new territory.

“It’s crazy how large their range is,” said Kevin Swanson, a Wildlife Management Specialist for the DNR. “We think about wolf packs in the U.P. and how large their range is- it’s 45 square miles or more than that. Cougars can go thousands of miles and that’s what these cats do.”

“They travel across state lines like we drive through cities. They like seclusion. We don’t have a lot of people but we have a lot of large tracks of forestland in the U.P., not a lot of roads in some areas and that’s what cougars like,” Swanson added.

The DNR has found no evidence of a breeding population in the U.P. If you see a cougar or find evidence of one, you’re asked to contact the DNR.