Huge Black Cat Spotted in Northern Michigan – What Was it?
Dakota Stebbins of northern Michigan recently captured a few photos of what he believed to be a black cougar in Manistee County.
Stebbins posted the photo on social media, and as you can imagine, people went crazy over the images.
He took the photos at the Drew Kostic Memorial 5K Tough Run in Copemish on Saturday, August 13. He said that he was about 50 yards from the large animal when he snapped the photos.
At first, it was really unclear as to precisely what kind of animal it was. While Stebbins believed it was a black cougar, other people offered up their two cents.
Some people on social media said that it was nothing more than a large house cat. I think we can all agree that it's not a regular house cat. Others tossed around the idea that it was a bobcat, lynx, or possibly a mountain lion (or cougar).
More than a week later, I asked Stebbins if it actually was a bobcat that he had photographed. At that point, he felt that he had a better understanding of what it more than likely was.
Knowing what I know now from both the local DNR and some other researchers we believe it was actually an adolescent Jaguar that someone either abandoned and released or escaped.
Here's what the DNR had to say about the sighting.
DNR Large Carnivore Specialist Cody Norton:
First off, for a cougar or panther - as they are called in Florida and other areas - there's actually never been a confirmed black cougar anywhere in the world, so the only two cat species that express melanism in their hair pigment are leopards and jaguars.
It sounds like that mystery has been solved...it was a jaguar. Well, at least that's what they believe it was.