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A cougar in Lake Orion?

Keatington woman finds tracks; neighbor says she saw it

December 30, 2009 - Keep an eye on your pets and children, says Pam Cheney. A few weeks ago, the Keatington subdivision resident found large cat tracks in her back yard belonging to what she thinks is a cougar.

"Now we all walk our dogs at night on leashes so they're near us. You worry about the little kids in the neighborhood," she said.

Cheney says her neighbor actually saw the cougar at about 7:30 one morning.

"She said 'I saw something this morning and I thought it was a big cat.' Her dog barked like it never baked before. She saw these eyes glowing and thought it must be a raccoon and when it moved between the bushes, she saw the color of its face and knew it wasn't a raccoon."

The cat was "scotched down, ready to jump" on the neighbor's dog, according to Cheney.

The Orion Township woman says she worries about school children in the area. Keatington is in close proximity to four LO schools.

Cheney noted she saw a cougar walking in her front yard five years ago.

"It's always been so woodsy around here and now they're building so much, the poor things have nowhere to go," she said, speculating on the reason such a wild animal would hang around.

Cheney says she reported the big cat to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) five years ago, "but they didn't do anything." That's why she didn't bother reporting it this time around.

Tim Payne, DNR wildlife supervisor for southeastern Michigan, says a recent cougar sighting anywhere in metro-Detroit is news to him. The last sighting he remembers in Orion Township was around the same time Cheney says she saw one five years ago.

But what if there's really a big cat roaming around Lake Orion?

"If there was a bonafide cougar, you should use restraint and care," Payne said. If you have a large predator in your back yard, that makes sense."

He said if a cougar is in the area, it was probably someone's pet at one point.

Bob Remer, Bald Mountain park supervisor, shared those sentiments.

"If there was a confirmed sighting, I would expect that it's someone's pet that they don't want anymore," he said, noting he hasn't heard about any recent sightings, official or otherwise.

Remer says he'd be "flabbergasted" if there really was a cougar in the neighborhood.

"But critters surprise me on occasion," he said.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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