Cougar case to head to court
MANISTIQUE – Three suspects will face charges from the Schoolcraft County prosecuting attorney following their alleged involvement in a cougar killing. The cougar was found illegally killed in December in Schoolcraft County.
According to the 93rd District Court, charges among the suspects, who reside in downstate Bay County, vary. The first suspect will face one count of endangered species: taking/possessing/buying/ selling, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $2,500 fine. The second suspect faces one count of conspiracy to commit endangered species: taking/ possessing/buying/selling. The final suspect faces the most charges, including: one count of killing, torturing, mutilating, maiming, or disfiguring an animal, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000; one count of lying to a peace officer, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $2,500; one count of endangered species: taking/possessing/ buying/selling; and one count of conspiracy to commit endangered species: taking/possessing/ buying/selling.
The names of the suspects will be released following their arraignment, which is set for March 5 at 9 a.m.
Acting on a tip that a cougar had been illegally killed at a hunting camp in northeast Schoolcraft County in December, DNR conservation officers and Special Investigations Unit detectives were able to successfully recover evidence and identify and apprehend the suspects.
Upon completion of the DNR’s investigation, the case was turned over to Schoolcraft County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Noble.
A trail camera photo of a cougar near the same area as this incident had been confirmed by the DNR’s Wildlife Division shortly before the incident. Wildlife officials believe the animal killed was most likely the same cougar seen in the recent photo.
Cougars, also known as mountain lions, disappeared from the state in the early 1900s. The last confirmed wild cougar in Michigan prior to 2008 was an animal killed near Newberry in 1906.
Since 2008, the DNR has confirmed photos or tracks of cougars on 23 occasions in 10 Upper Peninsula counties.