Mountain lions among us?
January 29. 2006 6:59AM
Many residents claim they've seen cougars
Tribune Staff Writer
No, there are no mountains in southwestern
But that doesn't necessarily mean there are no mountain lions.
Area residents who turned out last week for a meeting in Berrien Springs regarding the possibility of cougars, or mountain lions, in southwestern
Even the skeptical Dave Bostick, a wildlife biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, agreed at the meeting that
But he qualified his statement, arguing there aren't many, and that the ones that are here may have been released by private owners instead of having been bred in the wild.
Bostick disagreed that the horse mauled in November in the
"My best guess is that was the result of one or more very large dogs,'' Bostick said.
But Berrien County Animal Control Manager Val Grimes and
Grimes also said a Bridgman couple who reported seeing a cougar last weekend near
The tracks were perhaps made by the same animal Bridgman resident Alan Zilke said he had tracked about a month earlier. The 74-year-old Zilke said Friday he's familiar with cougar tracks, having observed them while hunting deer in
He said the tracks he observed in Bridgman followed the same pattern.
"There's no doubt in my mind ... it's a big cat,'' he said.
Zilke said he and Rev. Russell Panico, a Three Oaks minister who claimed at last week's meeting to have observed a black panther on his property in April 2005, followed in the snow the tracks of the alleged Bridgman cat. He said the tracks wound through the Warren Dunes Estates Mobile Home Park on
"The tracks started near the Dumpster behind Classic Caterers. That's what he'd been interested in,'' Zilke said. "We tracked it a half mile, around the inside of the trailer park and out the front of it, to
Zilke said the tracks were only a short distance from the pond where the Bridgman couple had reportedly observed a cougar taking a drink last weekend.
Such sightings are no surprise to
He said it wasn't just the cougar's appearance that startled him.
"He touched the road one time, in the middle. That's a 20-foot jump,'' he said.
Others like Frank Malewitz have argued cougars are not a new phenomenon in the area. The 77-year-old Malewitz, a resident of
"It was a big cat, followed by two cubs. I had to brake for them,'' he said. "It wasn't a dog, it wasn't a deer ... Those were cats, there was no mistaking them.''
Told that the DNR has taken the position that
"Baloney,'' he said.
Staff writer Lou Mumford:
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 150 big cats
12802 Easy Street
813.920.4130 fax 885.4457 cell 493.4564
Meet our recent mountain lion cub rescues: