MACKINAC (CBS Detroit) – There are big cats roaming Michigan — at least a few.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed two recent photos of cougars spotted in the eastern Upper Peninsula, marking the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth times cougar evidence has been verified in the U.P.

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One of the photos was taken with a camera phone in late October on private property near Chippewa County’s Raber Township, the DNR said in a release. The other was taken in early November by a trail camera on public land in Mackinac County near Garfield Township.

Counting these latest two, the DNR has now confirmed the presence of cougars in 11 Upper Peninsula counties 26 times since 2008.

DNR officials say the animals are believed to be young individuals dispersing from established populations in the Dakotas in search of new territory; and there is no evidence of a breeding population of cougars in the state.

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Although the likelihood of encountering a cougar in the wild is “very small” and attacks are “extremely rare,” according to the DNR, the agency does offer tips the following tips for what to do if you do come upon a cougar:

  • Face the animal and do not act submissive. Stand tall, wave your arms, and talk in a loud voice.
  • Never run from a cougar or other large carnivore. If children are present, pick them up so they cannot run.
  • If attacked, fight back with whatever is available. DO NOT play dead.
  • Report the encounter to local authorities and the DNR as soon as possible.

Cougar photos and other evidence — such as tracks, scat or cached kills  —should be reported to a local DNR office or through the DNR’s online reporting form AT THIS LINK.

The DNR says cougars or large exotic cats that are a direct and immediate threat to human life may be killed under Michigan law.

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