Nature

Michigan Cougars

The cougar is aka puma or mountain lion. It is a wild cat that eats mostly deer.

They like to hide in underbrush.

They are 30 inches tall and weigh 100 lbs.

There were 53 attacks on humans in 100 years prior to 1990.

There have been sightings in these Michigan counties:

  • Mecosta
  • Kalamazoo
  • Oakland
  • Mason
  • Barry
  • Schoolcraft
  • Wexford
  • Lenawee
  • Newaygo

 

Here is what they look like:

If you encounter a cougar

  1. Do not approach the cougar.
  2. Maintain eye contact and stand tall.
  3. Make yourself appear larger by raising your arms and standing on your tiptoes. Wave, act large.
  4. Speak loudly and firmly to discourage the cougar.
  5. If the cougar approaches, throw rocks or sticks to deter it.
  6. If attacked, fight back with whatever is available to you.

 

 

They have big teeth

They have big claws

 

They have big ears

 

They are wild cats

 

 

They thrive in the snow

Cool things to know

  1. Appearance: Cougars have a slender body with a round head and pointed ears. Their coat is usually tawny, with lighter-colored fur on their belly, chest, and throat. Adult males can weigh between 115-220 pounds (52-100 kg) and measure 7.9-9.0 feet (2.4-2.7 meters) in length, including their tail. Females are smaller, weighing between 64-141 pounds (29-64 kg) and measuring 6.2-7.0 feet (1.9-2.1 meters) in length.
  2. Solitary animals: Cougars are generally solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers raising their young. They have large home ranges and are territorial, with males actively defending their territories from other males.
  3. The kittens will stay with their mother for up to two years, learning how to hunt and survive in the wild.
  4. Hunting and diet: Cougars are obligate carnivores and skilled hunters, relying on stealth and ambush techniques to capture their prey. They primarily feed on ungulates, such as deer, elk, and moose, but will also eat smaller mammals, birds, and even insects when necessary. Cougars are capable of taking down prey much larger than themselves.
  5. Population and conservation: Cougar populations have been declining in many parts of their range due to habitat loss, hunting, and conflicts with humans. In the United States, they are protected under various state laws, and their populations have started to rebound in some areas.

 

 

If you encounter one, take a pictures and walk away.

I’ll never forget that heart-stopping moment during my hike in the dense forests of Michigan when I came face to face with a cougar. It was a crisp autumn morning, and the forest was a riot of color, with leaves in shades of burnt orange, deep red, and golden yellow. I was on a well-worn trail, about 4 miles into my hike, appreciating the stillness and the occasional chirp of distant birds.

I had paused to adjust my backpack straps and take a sip of water from my 32-ounce bottle when a sudden rustle in the underbrush caught my attention. I looked up, expecting perhaps a deer, but instead, my eyes met with a sight that sent a jolt of adrenaline through my body—a cougar, no more than 30 yards away.

The cat was magnificent and terrifying all at once. Its tawny coat blended seamlessly with the fallen leaves, and it moved with a silent, graceful poise that belied its power. The cougar, which I estimated was about 7 feet long from nose to tail tip and weighed around 160 pounds, regarded me with an intense gaze that seemed to pierce right through me.

I remembered reading that it was crucial to make myself appear larger and maintain eye contact, so I slowly raised my arms and avoided turning my back to the animal. The cougar’s ears were perked, and its muscular body was tense, ready to pounce or flee. We stood in a silent standoff for what felt like an eternity but was likely only a minute or two.

Eventually, the cougar gave a quiet huff, as if dismissing me as neither threat nor prey, and with a fluid motion that seemed effortless, it turned and vanished into the forest. The underbrush swallowed any sign of its presence, and I was left with a racing heart and a profound sense of awe.

 

 

mountain lion tracks in snow photos

 

 

Closeup

 

aka mountain lion, puma

  • Size: Adult cougars typically weigh between 80 and 200 pounds , with males being larger than females. They measure around 5-9 feet in length from nose to tail tip.
  • Appearance: Cougars have a tawny or grayish coat, with white or cream-colored undersides. They have a rounded head, pointed ears, and a long, thick tail with a black tip.
  • Diet: Cougars are carnivorous and primarily prey on ungulates such as deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. They also consume smaller mammals, birds, and even insects when necessary.
  • Hunting behavior: Cougars are solitary hunters and rely on stealth and ambush tactics to catch their prey. They typically stalk their target from behind and then pounce, delivering a powerful bite to the neck to subdue the animal.
  • Lifespan: In the wild, cougars typically live 10 years, while in captivity, they can live up to 20 years or more.
  • Conservation status: The IUCN Red List classifies the cougar as a species of “Least Concern” due to their extensive range and stable populations in many areas. However, they face threats from habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and overhunting in some regions.
  • Speed: Cougars are powerful and agile animals, capable of running at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour in short bursts.
  • Jumping ability: Cougars are excellent jumpers and can leap up to 18 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally in a single bound.

 

 

 

Info graphic

 

FAQ

2. How big can a Mountain Lion get?

Mountain lions can grow up to 8 feet long (including their tail) and weigh as much as 200 pounds. They’re essentially the bodybuilders of the feline world, minus the protein shakes.

3. Are Mountain Lions dangerous?

Generally, mountain lions are elusive and avoid humans, so they aren’t the big bad villains some stories make them out to be. But like any wild animal, if they feel threatened or cornered, they can and will defend themselves. They’re not exactly the type you’d invite over for a tea party.

4. What do Mountain Lions eat?

Mountain lions are obligate carnivores, meaning their diet is almost exclusively meat. Their preferred prey are deer, though they won’t say no to elk, moose, or bighorn sheep. They’re also known to snack on smaller animals, like rodents, if the buffet is looking a little sparse.

5. Where do Mountain Lions live?

Mountain lions are pretty adaptable and can live anywhere from deserts to forests, as long as there is enough prey and a good rock or two to sunbathe on. If you’ve ever dreamed of having a mountain or forest backyard without neighbors, the mountain lion life might be for you.

6. How fast can a Mountain Lion run?

Mountain lions can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour. That’s like driving through a residential area without breaking the speed limit. They’re the embodiment of “I got places to be and deer to eat.”

7. Can Mountain Lions climb trees?

Oh, yes. Mountain lions are expert climbers. They can leap up to 15 feet high, making your fancy cat tree look like a toddler toy. They use this skill either to pounce on unsuspecting prey or to escape when they’re not in the mood for social interaction.

8. What should I do if I encounter a Mountain Lion?

Don’t run or play dead – these tactics might work with other animals, but not with mountain lions. Make yourself look bigger, maintain eye contact, and make loud noises. Basically, it’s your moment to perform the most dramatic one-person show of your life.

9. Can you keep a Mountain Lion as a pet?

Short answer, no. Long answer, definitely no. Mountain lions are wild animals, not oversized house cats. They need space, natural environments, and most importantly, they really don’t like to be cuddled.