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Living with cougars

We understand that the prospect of cougars in Michigan can be alarming because cougars are potentially dangerous wild animals. In states with established populations (for example California and Colorado), people have been attacked and killed by cougars. The available evidence tells us that populations in the Midwest are very low and therefore, the likelihood of cougar encounters and attacks is also very low.

What should I do if I encounter a cougar?

The odds of encountering a cougar in the wild are very small and attacks are extremely rare. Should you encounter a cougar:

  • Face the animal and do not act submissive. Stand tall, wave your arms, and talk in a loud voice.
  • Never run from a cougar or other large carnivore. If children are present, pick them up so they cannot run.
  • If attacked, fight back with whatever is available. DO NOT play dead.
  • Report the encounter to local authorities and the DNR as soon as possible.

Can I kill a cougar or other large cat to protect myself, my children or other people?

Cougars or large exotic cats that are a direct and immediate threat to human life may be killed. If an animal is killed, the incident must be reported to the DNR. The DNR will respond to reports of cougars/large cats in residential or urban areas, if physical evidence is available. If animals are judged to be a threat to human life and safety, conservation officers or other qualified DNR employees may remove or euthanize the animal.

How can I discourage cougars around my home or farm?

  • Keep your pets indoors or in a covered outdoor kennel, particularly at night.
  • Install outside lighting, preferably with motion sensors.
  • Protect, fence, and shelter livestock, particularly at night.
  • Do not feed wildlife, this attracts potential prey sources. Landscape wisely, cover attracts wildlife. 

What if I suspect a cougar has killed my livestock?

Wild cougars may not be killed by the public in defense of pets or livestock without a permit from the DNR. However, under the Large Carnivore Act, large cats (including exotics and cougars) that are escaped pets may be destroyed in defense of property, as well as life. An animal acting tame or unafraid of people is likely to be a pet.

We will investigate complaints of livestock depredation by cougars. It is critical these be reported immediately. All physical evidence will be collected by the DNR. Please do not remove evidence.