Cougar Safety

Over the past few years, there have been several cougar sightings reported in the area in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In 2004-2005, a study was conducted with motion-sensitive cameras and track identification techniques, but no evidence of cougar was obtained. If you see a cougar, please report it to Park Rangers, and if at all possible, obtain some evidence. A photograph is best, but if you spot some tracks, mark them and get a Park Ranger so they can confirm the animal that made it.

To see a cougar can be a thrilling experience, but these animals deserve your respect! While you are unlikely to see a cougar, it is wise to know how to behave if you do encounter one. Cougars are tawny-colored with black tipped ears and tail. Adults are 5-8 feet long from nose to the end of its long tail.

If you encounter a cougar:

  • Remain calm - DO NOT RUN.
  • Pick up small children immediately.
  • Stand up and spread your arms to make yourself look big.
  • Maintain eye contact, and back away slowly.
  • If approached, wave your arms, shout, and throw sticks or rocks.
  • If attacked, fight back aggressively.
  • Do not approach a cougar.

Please consider these precautions when hiking.

  • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • Keep children next to you.
  • Travel in groups whenever possible.

Please report any encounter to the National Park Service by calling 231-326-4700.

The cougar is a state-listed endangered species fully protected by law.

Did You Know?