Clinton County Michigan Cougar Sighting.
Reported Wed 9/24/2008 10:46 PM to www.savethecougar.org
Date of Observation: 9/22/08
Time: early a.m.
Location Description: Rural farm country, lots of sizeable woodlots, fencerows the deer travel, large deer population, pheasants, turkeys, squirrels, varmints. River and swampy areas nearby, plenty of cover. Brush piles we made for rabbits, salt everywhere that horses share with deer.
Distinct claw marks on a horse that was fine the day before when they were brought up from a back pasture. Not serious injuries, young, healthy, adult mare, I'm sure her instinctive reflexes are all that saved her from being shredded. Suspect early a.m. assault, broken skin just seeping sera, nothing bleeding, hadn't started to scab over yet. Took good pictures before she got washed and treated. DNR took a set, as his weren't going to turn out as well, with oily wound dressing on it, and dust sticking to fly spray. Lived out west a number of years, ID/CO/TX, not first experience with big cats. Sent an email to other horse owners I know, who sent it on to others, tremendous response, lot of people coming to look. Finding others I know who had incidents, have made reports and were made to feel foolish. To say nothing of having intelligence/logic insulted! Lot of hunters stopping in, who have seen tracks while scouting for deer, and are sure that they have seen a cat. Others have seen cats, and are very steady, reliable people, not given to hysterics or wild imagination either. Second and third shift workers, traveling late/early, have seen cats. Be happy to send pictures to anyone who would like to make their own evaluation. Would post them here, but don't know how! DNR relies on biologists from western states, and I suggested they really need to know how different an environment that is in the real mountain/desert areas. Cats in this area is not a new thing, been some time since I heard one scream. Neighbor described to me what he heard on Monday night late, was a big cat. Bobcats being a given, nothing screams like a big cat! Set the coyotes to yowling, and dogs barking and scrambling for a safe place. Even my two cattle dogs know to bark from near the house, not take on anything that big. With abundant food sources, plenty of cover, is no reason cats shouldn't be raising young successfully, and those cats have to go somewhere to establish territories. I'm having a hard time with a cat taking on a healthy, adult horse, as a rule they would go for colts, calves, sheep, much smaller things. And there are so many fat, corn and bean fed deer within 1/4 mile! Dr. Rusz suggests this is a learned behavior in big cats. Horses in open, fenced pastures have fewer escape options than deer do. The horse is healing nicely, marks still quite obvious, anyone is welcome to stop in and make their own assessment. I'm inclined to be a little generous with the DNR, many of them don't have a clue about horses, and apparently don't know a lot about big cats either! I didn't want to be completely rude, and suggest they watch more nature shows on TV!