The Michigan DNR has confirmed that a viral photo of a cougar taken on a Michigan trail cam is in fact, real. That brings the confirmed number of cougar sightings up to 74 in the last 13 years.

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The photo recently gained news media attention after it was posted on social media.

The DNR's team of biologists that investigates cougar reports had seen the photo but initially could not confirm the source or location where it was taken. The team was able to investigate the report after the owner of the photo saw a newspaper story about it and contacted the DNR.

On Sept. 16, 2021, a trail camera photo was taken of a cougar in southern Dickinson County. This is about 50 miles from where a July 20 video was captured in Baraga County. -Cody Norton, the DNR's large carnivore specialist

This latest confirmation brings the total number of confirmed cougar reports to 74 in Michigan since 2008. This figure does not necessarily translate to the same number of cougars because a single animal may be included in more than one confirmed report.

So far this year, 10 cougar reports have been confirmed in the U.P., including three from Dickinson County, two from Marquette County and one each from Baraga, Delta, Houghton, Luce and Schoolcraft counties.

This year continues a three-year trend of the highest number of cougar reports confirmed over the past 14 years. The previous high of seven confirmations in a single year was surpassed in 2019 when 11 reports were recorded, followed by 15 in 2020. Norton said greater use of trail cameras by the public may be contributing to the increased number of cougar reports.

Previous genetic research has shown the cougars seen in the Upper Peninsula have dispersed to the region from states west of Michigan. The DNR has no evidence confirmed of a breeding population of mountain lions in the U.P.

For more information on cougars in Michigan, including a list of the confirmed reports and forms for reporting additional cougar evidence, visit

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