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DNR says black animal is not a wildcat

This photo taken by photographer Dakota Stebbins, of Traverse City, in Copemish, looks like a large black wildcat at first glance, but the DNR has said they think it is a domestic house cat.

By Judy Reed

Photos of what looks like a large, black wildcat have been in the news and making the rounds on social media since they were taken on August 13. But the Michigan DNR has now said that they believe the photos are of a domestic house cat, and not a wildcat. 

A photographer who volunteered to take photos for the Drew Kostic Memorial 5K Tough Run, in Copemish, in northern Manistee County, snapped the photos on August 13. The DNR was called in to confirm whether it was a wildcat.

Cody Norton, large carnivore specialist with the Michigan DNR, told the Post this week that the Department’s Cougar Team has reviewed the photos and feels the appearance of the animal in the photos is most consistent with a domestic cat, not a wild species.

He said they studied the characteristics of large and smaller wildcats, and domestic cats, and determined it looked most like a house cat, and is no longer than 30 inches from nose to tail.

“A question came up about it possibly being a black cougar,” said Norton. “Nowhere has there ever been a black (melanistic) cougar,” he explained.

Norton said that whenever a photo is taken of an animal on a surface such as bare dirt, or a parking lot, with nothing nearby to compare it to, it makes it harder to ascertain the size of the animal.

For more on distinguishing between the species, visit https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/education/michigan-species/mammals/cougar/distinguishing-cougars-bobcats-and-domestic-cats.

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One Response to “DNR says black animal is not a wildcat”

  1. Randy Cullinan says:

    Interesting photo but can’t determine for sure what it is. If it is a large cat, it is a really skinny one. You can’t learn anything by looking at the head. The tail looks a little too substantial for a house cat. Keep cameras out and let us know what shows.




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