By Jim Sherman, Sr.
One doesn’t have to spend much time in Alcona County before the subject of cougars comes up. We were drawn there by a tale (tail) told by Fred Latta, Oxford developer/builder.
He said a cougar had jumped a pregnant cow near Glennie, bit its tail off, and scratched hide off its back and legs as it slipped off the back of the animal.
I asked if anyone had written a story about it. He didn’t know of any, so thinking it was quite interesting, I visited the Glennie area, Gloria and Richard McGuire’s Mill & Lumber specifically, with Latta.
I’m fully aware of the dislike of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the Upper Peninsula, having a place in Engadine. The DNR is equally disliked in the upper lower peninsula.
The DNR is rarely contacted by its residents, according to Cafe comments. One said, ‘The DNR denies there are any cougar in our area, but they’ll fine us if we kill one. Seems kind of funny, uh??
Some sincerely believe the DNR planted pairs of cougars in northeast Michigan to kill deer, thus helping eliminate the tuberculosis infecting much of the deer herd. One adult cougar is reported to eat 40 deer a year.
Richard McGuire’s personal experience with a cougar was September 8, 2004. A cougar jumped on the back of one of his pregnant cows, and when it couldn’t topple it over, dragged its claws over the hind quarters of the cow, and down her hind legs, tearing the hide.
During the attack the cougar bit off the cow’s tail.
The attack did not affect the pregnancy, her calf was born the end of April, 2005.
Did he report he attack to the DNR? No! Neither did a neighbor who, while sitting down to rest, watched a mother cougar and two cubs walk by. Neither did the person who saw them resting in their yard, or the people who lost geese and cats, or the farmer who found one of his sheep dead in a tree.
The cougar is known to attack their target and drag it off after the kill. Timberwolves, lynx, coyote, etc. will eat their prey and leave a trace.
Locals also believe the DNR put chips or collars on the cougars they released to keep track of them. We were told takers of cougars and wolves sometimes, after they kill, will attach the signal device to a piece of styrofoam and toss it in the river.
To heck with the DNR!
McGuire tells his grown sons to carry a gun when out on his property, but be ready to go to jail if you shoot a cougar.
Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, dedicated to restore and improve wildlife habitat, recognizes there are cougars in our state, but ‘are now found only in limited areas.?
Further, ‘Cougars usually live in areas with plentiful deer and adequate cover–which can include subdivisions and urban fringes. The more we humans invade cougar territory, the greater the chance of cougar human interaction.?
I guess that’s why they have been spotted in Monroe.
As for Gloria and Richard McGuire’s cattle, the Conservancy says they should, ‘Place livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night. Close doors to outbuildings since inquisitive cougars may go inside for a look.?
The McGuires have around 200 head of cattle. Cougars weigh 80-200 pounds and are 7 to 9 feet long. And, while dogs kill 18 people in the U. S. every year, cougars rarely kill humans, the Conservancy says.
By Jim Sherman, Sr.