Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Panel requests report on Michigan cougar sightings

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hear a report on the sighting of cougars at its monthly meeting in October. It is the first time the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has officially requested information on the endangered species.

"I'm becoming intrigued with these stories," said Commissioner Darnell Earley at the September NRC meeting after hearing from citizens who said they have seen Michigan cougars or had their livestock attacked by the large cats.

The Wildlife Police Committee will give a report on cougar sightings at its Oct. 5 NRC meeting. In August and September, the NRC and DNR were offered proof of the cougars' existence in Michigan. Citizens and conservation groups presented evidence of more than 1,200 sightings, including almost 100 sightings that involved evidence of a breeding population; confirmed DNA, scat, hair and bone samples; photos; videos, and livestock kills.

Citizens and wildlife groups have been putting pressure on the commission to investigate the cougar and develop a management plan based on its endangered status. The Michigan Citizens for Cougar Recognition is encouraging all citizens with information or evidence to attend and summarize their cougar observations at the meeting's public session.

Founder Denise Massey says that people unable to attend can forward their sighting reports to her through the Web site 20060926/NEWS01/109260023&SearchID=73258162847164

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