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Cougar video caught on trail cam

Photo provided by Eli Schaefer Eli Schaefer captured video of a cougar catching a deer before dragging it away via a camera he had set up at a favorite hunting site near Toivola.

HOUGHTON — A Houghton man became the latest Michigan resident to capture footage of a cougar last month.

Eli Schaefer captured video on Dec. 30 of a cougar taking down a deer on a camera he placed at one of his favorite hunting spots near Toivola. He didn’t find out what he had until about a week later, when he looked at the footage.

“I went in and hit play and was like, ‘Oh my god,'” he said. “The first thought was how fast the cat must have been moving not to catch him sooner. He covered some ground.”

Also, he said, “I was thinking how easily that could’ve been me, when I was checking the camera.”

Schaefer had captured a photo of a cougar from another nearby camera in October. But the video was what really caught people’s attention. He sent it to his father, who said he’d never seen anything like it.

Photo provided by Eli Schaefer Eli Schaefer captured video of a cougar catching a deer before dragging it away via a camera he had set up at a favorite hunting site near Toivola.

“A lot of people are amazed I was even able to get a video like that,” Schaefer said. “Most people can barely even get a clear picture.”

He also heard from a Utah researcher, who called his footage “the dream shot.”

“It’s the only thing she’s never been able to capture on video, is a cougar taking down their prey, like a deer,” he said.

The deer is estimated at around 100 pounds, Schaefer said. The researcher also guessed the cougar was a male based on the large size of the head.

Cougars were once native to Michigan, though the existing wild population was killed off in the early 1900s, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.

Photo provided by Eli Schaefer Eli Schaefer’s hand is seen next to the paw print left by a cougar. Schaefer captured video of a cougar taking down a deer on a camera he had set up at a favorite hunting site in Toivola.

The DNR website lists 19 cougar sightings in the Copper Country between 2008 and 2022.

The DNR also plans to visit the site. Schaefer said the state’s large carnivore specialist is scheduled to come this week to confirm the findings. That will involve recording the GPS location and comparing the background to that in the photo, he said.

Schaefer enjoys the reaction his video has gotten.

“I think it’s really cool, getting all that interest and that,” he said. “I wish it wasn’t at my favorite deer hunting spot, but if it wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have gotten it on camera.”

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