Cougar attack fear unfounded
To the editor:
In recent years, there have been 34 DNR confirmed cougar sightings across the Upper Peninsula. There have been many other claimed cougar sightings, but they have been proven to be false claims. The sighting of these large cats has some people worried that these animals could be dangerous for people who spend a lot of time in the woods.
This fear is totally unfounded. Many of the cougars that we see in the U.P. are young males that have left their home in the Black Hills of South Dakota and are trying to find new territory. It is estimated that at any one time there are only one or two cougars in the whole Upper Peninsula. That’s at most two cats in 16,452 square miles of land. Clearly, the odds of seeing a cougar are extraordinarily low.
These cats have a reputation for being dangerous animals. This reputation comes mostly from our instinctive fear of large predators. Cougars are ambush predators that tend to do most of their hunting and movement at night, which reduces the odds of human encounters significantly. When there are interactions with humans, they tend not to be fatal, since cougars have a habit of running away from humans. This is because we are not their prey; in fact, humans are the biggest threat to cougars.
While there have been some human deaths from cougar attacks, the “average number of people killed by cougars in the US is .33,” according to the CDC. That’s less than 1 person a year. This means that you are far more likely more to be killed in a collision with a deer or a cow.
Cougars aren’t a threat to humans, and there is no reason to be afraid of their movement into the UP. If you have any concerns about them, or spot a cougar, please contact the DNR.