The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cannot verify a recent series of alleged cougar sightings in or near Kensington Metropark in Milford Township, and has also ruled that a photo of a cougar thought to be inside the metropark was actually taken somewhere else.
Adam Bump, a bear and furbearer specialist for the DNR, said that a woman on horseback claimed to have seen a cougar at Kensington and recently provided a picture of the alleged sighting.
Tim Payne, regional manager of the Lower Peninsula Region-Southeastern branch of the DNR, said he received the picture in an e-mail on Thursday, Oct. 25.
But both Payne and Bump said that when DNR officials compared the Milford picture submitted to them to a similar picture of a cougar taken in the Upper Peninsula over summer, everything in the pictures matched perfectly.
Last month, at least two Milford residents also claimed to have seen a cougar near Kensington Metropark.
Officials at Kensington directed all questions about the sightings to DNR officials.
“It sounds like there were some sightings from individuals, but there were no tracks or physical evidence,” Bump said. “We can’t verify sightings without physical evidence.”
Payne said that when a person calls in with a sighting, the DNR asks for evidence such as a picture, paw tracks or droppings from the animal.
“We would then verify the sighting location,” Payne said.
According to the Michigan Citizens for Cougar Recognition, the last previous reported sighting of a cougar in the lakes area was in March 2011, when a woman claimed to observe a black cougar walking about 100 to 200 yards from her house in Milford Township near Kensington.
But, the DNR states that there is no scientific documentation that black-color cougars exist in Michigan.
There have been confirmed cougar sightings in the Upper Peninsula, while there has yet to be one in the Lower Peninsula.