Monday, January 23, 2006

DNR says if it is a cougar it was a pet

Debate continues over cougar in Berrien Springs



A horse died last month, presumably from a cougar attack, and since then, many calls have been made about cougar sightings and concerns


Posted: 01/23/2006 06:42 pm

Last Updated: 01/23/2006 06:55 pm



Story filed by NewsCenter16 Reporter

Stephanie Stang


Berrien Springs, MI - Clearing up cougar concerns; on Monday, three Michigan state representatives held a meeting in Berrien Springs, to do just that.


Back in November a horse was attacked by a wild animal.  Since then Berrien County Animal Control says it's received a steady steam of phone calls of alleged cougar sightings.


At least 80 people packed the meeting, basically concerned about a possible cougar in Southwest Michigan.


But if anything, they may be more confused because there seems to be an argument about whether or not there's even a cougar in the area.


A cougar sighting

Every morning Sylvia Nolke wakes up to the wildlife in her backyard.


“I saw something moving and I thought, ‘is that a rabbit?’  And I thought, ‘that is too big to be a rabbit,’ and saw it run into the back woods and before it did it kind of looked this way and I saw the little cat face and little ears and I realized it was a young cougar,” said Nolke.


Despite skeptics, Nolke swears she saw a cougar two months ago.  She says they keep finding paw prints in the snow.


With four kids, Nolke is afraid to let them play in the yard.


“It’s a terrible fear that’s been established around here,” she said.


That's why three local lawmakers organized a meeting where experts could clear up any cougar concerns.


“The DNR has ignored eyewitnesses, scientific studies, video tapes, still photos and requests for assistance from citizens and law enforcement agencies and animal control officers, the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy thinks the DNR stance is irresponsible,” said Denise Massey, Michigan Wildlife Conservancy.


“The physical evidence as it stands right now does not say for sure that they’re here.  As scientists and wildlife biologists we try to focus on physical evidence,” said Dave Bostick, DNR specialist.


The DNR says if there is a cougar in the area, it's probably a pet that was let go.  But Nolke believes there is more than one.


“If there's a young one there has to be a mother there,” said Nolke.


And she hopes the DNR will track them before a cougar gets too close.


“Something needs to be done.  I don't know what the answer is but something needs to be done,” said Nolke.


The DNR says the chance of cougar attack is very unlikely since there have only been about 20 in the past 100 years.


But if you are worried, they are telling people to keep their pets inside at night.


For the cats,


Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 150 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.920.4130 fax 885.4457 cell 493.4564


Meet our recent mountain lion cub rescues:


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