Michigan Deer Population:  Although the state doesn't make a formal estimate, other other sources have estimated up to 2 million deer in 2023 and 2024.  The state deer specialist agreed at the end of 2023 that its fair to say the state has more than a million deer and "I certainly couldn't dispute 2 million."  

An estimate of 1.7 million deer in 2020 and 1.75 million deer in 2016 through 2018.  Up from an estimated 1.58 million deer in 2015.   Based on harvest data about 1.4 million deer in 2014, 1.6 million in 2013 and 1.7 million in 2012.  The herd declined following harsh winters of 2013-2014 with the Upper Peninsula hit hardest.  About 2 million deer in the 1990s and around 1980.  2023 Deer Forecast

Michigan Deer News

Commission adjusts deer rules July 16, 2024 Michigan, Daily Press

... antlerless harvest quotas will be reduced in the “mid-snowfall zone,” a band crossing the middle latitudes of the U.P. ..,

State adopts new deer hunting regulations, rejects antler point restrictions, one buck rule July 12, 2024 Michigan, FOX 17

... Hunters in the Lower Peninsula can expect more opportunity to hunt does ... Deer baiting, for example, won't be expanded in the Lower Peninsula, and neither will antler-point restrictions (which would require hunters to target more mature bucks)...

The History Of Deer Forest: From Thriving Park To Abandonment July 12, 2024 Michigan, WGRD

... Deer were reportedly living in such poor conditions that authorities had to relocate over 150 malnourished deer from the property. Visitors were astonished to see deer so thin you could count their ribs. As a result, the park closed down with many of the buildings and equipment left to decay...

Hunting regulations may change as DNR aims to address deer population July 10, 2024 Michigan, WNEM

... The agency is considering changes  ... including the use of drones to aid hunters, expanded doe hunting seasons, and an expanded hunter access program. Some counties could even see baiting reinstated where there is no evidence of chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis..,

MSU experts research for vaccinating wild animals July 8, 2024 Michigan, WILX-TV on MSN

... to help prevent the spread of Bovine tuberculosis ... trying to target a large number of free-roaming wild animals like whitetail deer... They plan to place the medicine in various baits that would be dropped in a target region...

Without a ‘magic bullet’ for Michigan’s deer woes, hunting season changes could be coming July 7, 2024 MIchigan, MLive - GrandRapids/Muskegon/Kalamazoo on MSN

... Above the Mackinac Bridge, the herd is struggling to survive ... “We’ve got a culture of I’ve got my buck, I’m done,”... “The deer herd is a bunch of senior girls and a bunch of freshman boys. That’s not the way a herd is intended to be. It should be balanced with age structures and sex ratios,” ..,

DNR proposing new hunting regulations amid deer overpopulation July 1, 2024 Michigan, WCMU Public Radio

... State officials estimate there to be around 2 million deer in Michigan [DNR doesn't make a formal estimate] ... Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Chad Fedewa said Southern Michigan in particular is experiencing deer overpopulation ..,

Deer hunting regulations could see changes June 17, 2024 Michigan, Interlochen Public Radio

...  the Natural Resources Commission heard recommendations from a special group created to address deer problems ... In the U.P., populations are struggling, while the opposite is true in lower Michigan... The Lower Peninsula group recommended an “Earn-A-Second-Buck” program... require hunters to harvest an antlerless deer before they can take a second antlered deer..,

Latest DNR survey shows stable wolf population in Michigan June 13, 2024 Michigan, DNR News

     The survey estimates 762 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, showing a consistent population for the past 14 years... This year’s estimate showed an increase of 131 animals compared to the 2022 estimate of 631; however, the results demonstrate a continued trend of statistical stability in Michigan’s wolf population..,

It's the season of fawns in the U.P. June 7, 2024 Michigan,  Daily Press

... In the 1980s, the deer population was very high [Upper Peninsula] and so the wolf population swelled.  Now with many more wolves and other big predators (coyotes, cats), the deer are fewer and they are learning to live in a different way than 25 years ago...

Influence of deer harvest regulations on antlerless harvest - abundance and sex and age composition: Implications for managing deer in the face of Chronic Wasting May 28, 2024 Disease State of Michigan

     An antler point restriction (APR) harvest regulation was enacted in three counties in southwestern Michigan, and the effects of this regulation on deer harvest and relative abundance were evaluated.

     Relative abundance of female and male deer remained unchanged in the APR area, while sublegal male deer abundance increased in two of four townships in the non-APR area.

     Antlerless deer harvest did not change in the APR area, and this pattern matched that of the non-APR area.

Michigan bovine TB-positive deer prompt cattle testing May 20, 2024 Markets

... Because of the detection of bovine tuberculosis in wild deer from Benzie, Crawford and Otsego counties during the 2023 deer hunting season, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has designated two bovine TB testing areas...

Michigan's whitetail harvest, hunters both increase in '23 May 18, 2024 Outdoor News

... Michigan deer hunters combined to kill an estimated 347,008 whitetails this past season, which was 2% greater than 2022 (339,189) ... 

Increase in Michigan deer harvests in 2023 an encouraging sign for managers May 9, 2024 FOX 2 Detroit on MSN

... Instead of the expected decline that wildlife managers have come to expect, 2023's total participation in deer hunting rose 1.4%. And for the first time in decades, it happened without a change in policy...,

Resolution calling for 'scientific management' of gray wolves introduced to Michigan Legislature April 29, 2024 Michigan, Manistee News

... Michigan lawmakers urge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to allow the state to manage gray wolves because, without management, the population could reach numbers detrimental to other species, such as whitetail deer...

Rep. Cavitt slams committee rejection of Sportsmen Against Hunger funding April 16, 2024 Michigan, Michigan House Republicans

... rejection of a budget amendment to provide $600,000 for Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger ... organizers said storage issues and low processor payments stressed the program. MSAH also faced increased DNR testing guidelines for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis ... 

New bovine TB case could expand testing April 16,2024 Michigan, Brownfield Ag News

... a wild deer was confirmed positive for the disease in February outside of the state’s current Modified Accredited Zone in Benzie County..,

Bovine tuberculosis study ‘came together really well,’ according to DNR official April 10, 2024 Michigan, The Alpena News

... The deer have taken the vaccine and Sewell said it takes about six weeks before a deer’s immune system has created any response to the vaccine...  this is the first time the tuberculosis vaccine has been given to wild deer in the U.S...

Michigan DNR gauging public opinion on deer management with new survey April 8, 2024  Michigan Radio

...  the DNR wants to understand how the general population feels about deer management and deer in general. The deer survey intends to gather data for “additional insights for future discussions and subsequent recommendations,” according to a statement from the DNR...

Gray wolf killed in southern Michigan; DNR investigating how it got there April 3, 2024 The Detroit News

... A gray wolf was killed in a January coyote hunt in Calhoun County, potentially the first time one has been identified in Michigan's southern Lower Peninsula since the species was wiped out from the state in the early 20th century ... The state's known wolf population is located in the Upper Peninsula ...

DNR public survey, open through April 16, seeks broad input on deer management April 2, 2024 Michigan DNR

... All residents, regardless of their interest in or knowledge of deer, are encouraged to participate. Completing the survey should take no more than five minutes... A link to the survey, open now through April 16, is available at Michigan.gov/Deer.

Oakland County communities seeking regional solution to deer overpopulation April 2, 2024 Michigan, The Oakland Press on MSN

... A cull would take years to organize and would require DNR approval. Since the advisory vote, the city has not pursued it. Some experts say culls are not a lasting solution to deer overpopulation...

Wildlife Managers Are Hiding Meds in Alfalfa to Vaccinate Wild Deer April 1, 2024 Michigan, Yahoo

... a field study in Alpena County that involves dropping treat balls filled with oral vaccines for bovine tuberculosis around browsing habitat to see if they help prevent the respiratory disease in whitetails ...  The expectation is that deer will sniff out the clusters of alfalfa and molasses in their feeding areas and eat them ...

Big Rapids Michigan to put up fencing at Roben-Hood Airport  March 27, 2024 Michigan, Big Rapids Pioneer

... There have been several attempts to lower the risk of wildlife interfering with aircraft at the airport, Bowman said, including ... contracting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as consultants to give recommendations on wildlife control and annual deer culls ... “The overall recommendation was to construct a 10-foot tall fence around all operations areas,”  ...

Bovine TB vaccination trial March 21, 2024 State of Michigan

... From late February to April 2024, the United States Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) will deploy vaccine delivery units (VDUs) at selected sites in part of Alpena County, Michigan, to evaluate the ability to deliver an oral bovine tuberculosis (bTB) vaccine to wild deer...

Kensignton, No deer cull at Kensington, nor any of 13 metroparks, despite growing state deer herd March 21, 2024 Michigan, HometownLife

... “Population estimates currently do not reach the density threshold for management action in 2024, so no culls were, or will be, performed in any Metroparks,” ... has happened only one other time since the parks began shooting the animals as part of the deer management program in 1999...

Deer finally finds the shore after breaking through Six Mile ice March 15, 2024 Michigan, 

... After repeatedly getting its front hooves on the ice only to have it give way, the deer figured out it could thrash out a route, using its legs and then body to cut a path to open water... it had spent at least 90 minutes in icy waters ...

One mild winter won't impact deer herd long-term March 15, 2024 Michigan, Daily Press

...“To really see a big increase in your deer population, you need multiple mild winters in a row,” said DNR Wildlife Technician Colter Lubben. “Because all a mild winter does is — it gives you one year class.” ... The overwhelming majority of deer harvested during hunting season are one-and-a-half, two-and-a-half, and three-and-a-half years old ..,

DNR study shows how snow affects deer populations March 14, 2024 Michigan, Upper

... data about how many deer were hunted by predators ... “Body mass and cumulative winter severity are important, but when that snow leaves is twice as important as either one of those,” said Belant... watch the entire presentation on the Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ Facebook page...

Michigan DNR says early spring causes more active deer populations March 12, 2024 Upper on MSN

...  due to early spring... could be potentially dangerous for drivers... south-facing roads are most likely to attract deer.  “They green up first, so it attracts the deer to them,” ...

Charlevoix,  25 deer killed in Charlevoix as part of cull, city unsure about results February 9, 2024 Michigan, YAHOO!News

... When asked why the community at large wasn't notified ahead of time, McDonnell said, "We didn’t want people coming out and protesting or being looky-loos and creating more of a nuisance or creating a danger for themselves." ... 

Michigan bear populations climbing fast in lower peninsula, more gradually in UP February 8, 2024 FOX 2 Detroit

...Estimates from the Department of Natural Resources report there are more than 12,200 bears across the state, with more than 10,200 of those being reported in the U.P. However, it's the lower peninsula that's seeing the largest increase in the number of bears, with a 55% increase in populations since 2012..,

DNR reports Benzie County's first TB-positive deer February 1, 2024 State of Michigan

... A 4-year-old doe harvested in Benzie County, Michigan, during the 2023 deer hunting season has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. This is the first bTB-positive wild deer from that county....

DNR announces $100,000 available for UP Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative grants January 29, 2023 Michigan Department of Natural Resources

... Now in its 16th year, the initiative is supported by the state’s Deer Range Improvement Program, which is funded by a portion of deer hunting license revenue. More than 132 projects in nearly all U.P. counties have improved thousands of acres of deer habitat...

Michigan DNR's 2023 Deer Harvest Report January 27, 2024 Michigan, The Lasco Press

... Since 1996, the Upper Peninsula has experienced more than three times as many severe winters as between 1980 and 1996, along with three instances of back-to-back and two instances of three consecutive severe winters... Buck harvest was at an all-time high from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, and winters were noticeably milder during this time..,

Deer harvest total drops in Michigan, DNR talks regulations with FOX 17 January 19, 2024 fox17online

... The department's goal at the beginning of deer season—that hunters take more does than bucks— also failed, with the antlerless harvest dipping to 40%, as compared to 43% from the prior year..,

DNR to form groups for deer management January 18, 2024 Michigan, The Iron Mountain Daily News

... “We’ll be developing two separate groups, one for each peninsula, since the challenges in each area are unique,” DNR deer management specialist Chad Stewart said. “Our focus with each group will be to pull together people with different perspectives and experiences but a common passion for improving Michigan’s deer herd for future generations.” ...

97 elk harvested during unseasonably warm late-season elk hunt January 16, 2024 Michigan, MLive

... In total, 171 elk were harvested in 2023 ... Michigan’s elk herd is estimated to have a population between 870 and 1,684 animals, according to the 2022 elk survey..,

Michigan firearm deer hunt numbers plummet, particularly in U.P., and locals blame wolves January 11, 2024 Michigan, YAHOO!News

...Despite selling more deer hunting licenses than the previous year, the 2023 firearm deer season resulted in a significantly lower deer take in Michigan than in 2022 — with the falloff even more pronounced in the Upper Peninsula..,

Wildlife vaccination strategies for eliminating bovine tuberculosis in white-tailed deer populations

A Pandey, AB Feuka, M Cosgrove, M Moriarty… - PLOS Computational Biologu, 2024

... We evaluated the impact of pulse vaccination across a range of vaccine properties. Pulse vaccination was effective for reducing disease prevalence rapidly with even low (30%) to moderate (60%) vaccine coverage of the susceptible and exposed deer population and was further improved when combined with increased harvest... By fitting the model to the core endemic area of bovine tuberculosis in Michigan, USA, we identified feasible integrated management strategies involving vaccination and increased harvest that reduced disease prevalence in free-ranging deer...

Michigan's Deer Population January 1, 2024 100.7 WITL

... Chad Stewart, deer, elk, and moose specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was asked ... if the estimated deer herd was around 2 million (a number reported and attributed to the DNR in multiple reports):  "I think that's fair. But, you know, whether it's 1.5 million, which can give you a pretty large error rate there. I couldn't say the difference, but I think it's easily safe to say that we have more than a million, and I certainly couldn't dispute 2 million." ..,

Michigan data:   Deer kill numbers declined significantly in the 2023-24 hunt after the severe 2022-23 winter, particularly in the upper peninsula even though hunter numbers were up. Hunter participation in 2023-24 rose by 1.4% after decades of decline. The mild 2023-24 winter allowed for some recovery of the deer population.  In 2024 the deer population was struggling in the Upper Peninsula, but high in the Lower Peninsula.  Although the state doesn't make a formal estimate the state deer specialist agreed at the end of 2023 that its fair to say the state has more than a million deer and "I certainly couldn't dispute 2 million. An estimate of about 2 million deer in 2021-22 and up to two million into 2023 and 2024 with lower numbers in the north and consistent numbers in the south. .  

In 2023, the state deer specialist wrote an open letter to Michigan's deer hunters noting that the state took a smaller percentage of antlerless deer than neighboring states and that hunters needed to take a larger percentage of antlerless deer in the Lower Peninsula.  However,  the percentage of does taken in the 2023-24 hunt declined to 40 percent..   

In the 2023 deer season preview the state noted there had been a hard 2022-23 winter. " While there was some adult and fawn mortality reported in select areas, major die-offs from the harsh winter were, once again, avoided. Deer numbers remain low in many locations, especially along the Superior shoreline, the western counties, and even some locations in the eastern UP."  The number of deer hunters declined from about 800,000 in 2000 to about 550,000 in 2023.  The amount of donated venison increased five-fold from 1991 to 2022.

About 1.7 million deer in 2020 based on press reports and hunting data.  The state was not making formal estimates of population size.  2022 Deer Forecast.  "Statewide, the number of people hunting deer decreased significantly by about 5% between 2020 and 2021...The number of antlered deer taken in 2021 was not significantly different from 2020; however, the harvest of antlerless deer decreased significantly by 10%." Michigan DNR 2021. 2021 Forecast.  License buyers fell by 5.7% from 2017 to 2022 but harvest tags were virtually unchanged.

A mild 2020-21 winter and abundant mast in the Upper Peninsula supported deer populations.  An estimated 1.75 million deer in 2016 through 2018, although the 2017 deer harvest was up by about 14 percent. More hunters in 2020 and 2021, a result of the pandemic.  A mild winter in 2020-21 and abundant acorns in 2021 have supported the deer population.  2020 Forecast.  

The 2019 deer population in the Upper Peninsula was about the same or lower as in 2018 with low fawn survival as a result of deep snow in the winter of 2018-19DNR 2019 Peninsula Forecast.  

Several mild winters into 2018 and an uptrend into 2019 as the herd recovers from the severe winters of 2013-15. The Michigan 2018 Deer Forecast observes more deer and fawns seen across the state with an average but lingering 2017-18 winter and a mild spring.   Higher deer populations in the Upper Peninsula, a continuing rebound from the hard winter of 2013-14.  Also higher for the Lower Peninsula.  Sale of deer hunting licenses dropped nearly 16 percent between 2013 and 2018.

The Michigan 2017 Deer Forecast indicated an increase in the population as a result of low snowfall and a mild spring. The winters of 2015-16 and 2016-17 were mild, allowing populations to recover from three harsh winters for 2012-13 through 2014-15  An estimated 1.5 million deer in 2015Based on harvest data about 1.4 in 2014, 1.6 in 2013 and 1.7 in 2012. The last official estimate of 1.73 from 2011.

 A significant population decline in 2013 and 2014 following harsh winters, most severe in the Upper Peninsula where there was an historic drop in the deer harvest in 2014, in part due to reduced licenses issued in an effort to boost the herd. The population was thought to be down by as much as 40 percent.  Still down in 2015, a milder but hard winter, lowest in 30 years.  Population steady in southeast of state.  An estimated 607,113 deer hunters in 2015 took 334,612 deer.  In 2014 an estimated 614,593 hunters took 329,000 deer for a success rate of 41 percent.  Nearly 800,000 hunters in the late 1990s.

Harvest declines of 30 to 40 percent were reported by some regions in 2013, down about 25 percent in the Upper Peninsula overall and a further decline of 30 to 40 percent in 2014 with some regions reporting declines of about 60 percent.  Down about 10 percent in the northern Lower Peninsula and down about 5 percent in southern Lower Peninsula in 2014..  Total harvest down 8 percent in 2013, down 14.5 percent in 2014. To boost the herd, antlerless deer quotas were reduced to about 494,000 in 2014, down from about 550,000 in 2013. In 2015 antlerless permits were eliminated for archery in the Upper Peninsula. Coyote predation has also been a factor in the reduced population, particularly in the western Upper Pennisula. Michigan coyote populations are at an all time high.

About 1.8 million deer in 2012.  In the 1990's the state had about two million deer, peak population.  On average about 40 percent of the Upper Peninsula harvest were yearling bucks.  Antler restrictions were implemented in 12 counties in 2013 and continue to be a topic of debate.  In a survey, 62 percent of hunters supported antler restrictions for the north-central Lower Peninsula, not enough to meet the 66 percent support requirement for implementation.  About eight million acres of public hunting land.  Deer hunting licenses fell from a high of 785,000 in 1998 to 621,000 for 2017

A population estimate of 1,750,000 in 2009.  An estimate of 1.8 million in 2003.

Chronic Wasting Disease was first identified in 2008 in a fenced, northern Kent County breeding facility; first detected in the wild herd in 2015.  Testing confirmed eight cases through 2016.  The 10th wild deer infected was confirmed in 2017, 31 in total for the year.  As of January 2018, a total of 60 confirmed.  For the 2019 season there were 65 CWD positives confirmed.  Six deer farms confirmed by 2021.  For the 2021 hunting season, 25 deer tested positive out of a sample of just over 7,200 deer.  In 2022.  In 2023.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD):  Outbreaks in 1955 and 1974 and sporadically since 2006, including 2017, with an estimated mortality from 50 to 1,000.  The highest mortality was in 2012, about 15,000 deer.  Some cases reported in 2021.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) first discovered in a fawn in Hillsdale county, 2017.

Bovine Tuberculosis.  As of early 2024, 350,000 wild deer have been tested for bovine TB with 1,017 infected deer detected. With 34 positive cases in 2015, Michigan is the only place in North America with TB still established in the deer herd.  Nearly 900 in 2017.  First discovered in wild deer in 1994.

History:  Deer were abundant in southern Michigan prior to settlement. [Michigan DNR] A deer hunting season was set in 1859 but by 1870 most of the deer in the south were gone from over hunting and habitat destruction.  The old growth forests of the north were ideal for moose and caribou, but as these forests were cleared, the north became ideal deer habitat.  In 1880 about 70,000 deer were killed in northern Michigan, 66,000 by market hunters and an estimate of one million deer.

Deer management began in 1895 with a license requirement and bag limit, but the deer population fell to about 45,000 deer in 1914.  One state source puts the number at up to 1.125 million deer in 1937, but the 1937 deer census puts the number at 1,172.975.  Estimated at 1.5 million by late 1940s and a state estimate of around 2 million in 1980.

More History and graphs below for years 1965 to 2008 from Michigan DNR 2010 deer management plan

Over hunting and habitat destruction again resulted in a population decline during the 1960s, about 800,000 in 1965, and into 1972 with the population down to about 500,000.  Revenue from hunting fees was used to improve habitat and the population rose to about 2 million in 1989More HistorySome history.  Michigan has 8 million acres of public hunting land.  A 1998 population estimate for the Upper Pennisula of 512,157 overwinter and 484,040 before fawning.

The number of game ranches peaked at about 800 in 2003 and has since fallen to about 394 by 2014, in part due to rising feed prices and stricter regulations.  Deer hunting generated about $2.3 billion a year in 2014.  

Population Estimates:   For spring, 1956, a population estimate of 336,000 for the northern lower peninsula and for spring, 1957, an estimate of 259,000 for the northern lower peninsula and 345,000 for the upper peninsula. 

Elk  About 1,277 elk based on a 2022 survey, a range of between 870 and 1,684.   Approximately 1,196 elk, with a confidence interval of plus or minus 266 in early 2019. An estimated 1,158 in early 2017.  In early 2016 an estimated 1,371.  The 2014 winter survey found 668, down from about  1,040 in 2012 and 1,200 in 2008. Michigan restarted its elk population with just seven animals in 1918, relocated to Wolverine, Michigan, from the western Yellowstone national park. after the herd was hunted to extinction around 1875.  Elk and deer have different diets during the spring, summer and fall.  2006 to 2019 elk population estimates.

Michigan 2020 Elk Hunting Digest June, 2020 DNR

...  Historically, elk were found in southern Michigan but had disappeared by the late 1800’s due to unregulated harvest and market hunting. Today’s elk herd is a result of seven elk brought from the western United States and relocated to Wolverine, Michigan in 1918.., [graph from DNR]

Moose   A 2023 count found 426 moose in the western Upper Pennisula, down from the 2019 survey which found 509 moose.  An estimate of between 420 and 470 animals in 2017.   An estimated 323 based on the 2015 biennual survey - down from 451 in 2013.  Most of the moose are in Baraga, Iron and Marquette counties, but there is a herd of about 100 in the eastern Upper Peninsula.  Ticks and weather are suspected as contributors to the decline.  Moose may not survive into the future for Michigan.   Moose in the Upper Pennisula were wiped out in the late 1880s by brainworm.

Changes in habitat and over hunting eradicated the Michigan moose population.  The first attempt to restore the herd was around 1935.  That effort failed because logging allowed the deer population to move into moose habitat in the north.  Some deer carry brainworm to which the deer are immune, but fatal to moose.  From 1934 to 1937, 71 moose were live trapped on Isle Royale and released on the mainland in a largely unsucessful effort to establish a population.

The Michigan moose among us November 4, 2021 Michigan DNR News

... Moose were native to Michigan but declined after settlement of the area progressed, with unregulated hunting and with mature forests altered through logging and subsequent forest fires.  “Moose were occasionally seen in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan after World War II,” according to the interpretive display. “Then, in the 1970s, biologists noted changes in the U.P. that resulted in better habitat for moose. The prospects for reintroduction looked good...

Wolves  A 2024 minimum estimate of  762 gray wolves.  A minimum population of 631 in 2022, all in the upper peninsula although there may be a few in the lower peninsula.  Less than 650 in 2018.  An estimated 636 in 2014 and 2015 in the Upper Peninsula.  Hunting bounties related to the decline of deer resulted in the elimination of wolves in the lower Pennisula by 1935, about six in the state by 1973Listed an an endangered species, a few wolves by the early 1980s, more than 100 by 1994.

Bears  An estimate of 12,200 bears in early 2024 with a 55% increases in the lower pennisula since 2012.

 Cougar  Once native but hunted to extinction by the early 1900s, there have been 38 confirmed sightings from 2008 into 2018 and 75 in total by the end of 2021.  Genetic tests indicate these are males dispering from South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest Nebraska, no breeding populations.