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Posted on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Was that a 'leaping' cougar in Ann Arbor? Witnesses describe mysterious animal

By Kellie Woodhouse

A day after police warned of a possible cougar spotting, an Ann Arbor woman says she may have encountered the animal on her way to work Friday morning.


A cougar, which typically is 6-9 feet long from its nose to the end of its tail.

Minu Tyagi was driving from her home in Ann Arbor to her job in Southfield at 6:45 a.m. Friday when suddenly a light-colored animal leaped in front of her car.

"It was quite a big leap," Tyagi said. "It was something bigger than a cat and smaller than a deer and very, very fast."

Tyagi saw the animal while driving south on Green Road. She said it ran out of a field near the Plymouth Green Crossings shopping center in Ann Arbor.

Tyagi's spotting comes after police alerted the public that a "possible cougar" with a tan coat was spotted near Hubbard Road between Green Road and Stone Road on Thursday before 8:30 a.m. Police searched for the animal Thursday but did not find it, although another animal described as black with a white patch was reported to police in the afternoon.

University of Michigan Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said Tyagi had not reported her animal sighting to police Friday morning.

Mohamed Aittaleb, a biology research fellow at U-M, said he believes his wife spotted the supposed cougar in the early hours of Thursday in the backyard of their home in Arrowwood Hills on Pontiac Trail, near the North Campus area.

Earlier, his wife had thrown stale bread in the backyard, thinking small animals like birds and squirrels would eat it. When she woke up around 1 a.m. to close a window, she spotted a dark brown animal eating the bread.

Aittaleb said she roused him from sleep to look at the animal, but by the time he got up it had left the area. He told her it was probably a dog, but says that she responded adamantly that "It's not a dog. It's not a dog." Aittaleb said his wife couldn't identify the animal, but said it did not appear to be a house pet or deer.

The next day Aittaleb saw the alert warning of a possible cougar and reported the sighting to campus police.

However, Brown said aside from the two sightings reported Thursday, no other possible cougar viewings have been reported.

Ann Arbor police Lt. Renee Bush said police received two reports of a dog in the road Friday morning. The reports, which came in at 8:45 and 9 a.m., alert of a medium-sized light brown dog roaming around the Plymouth Road area. One report referred to the dog as a lab and another referred to it as a partial hound dog.

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According to the Michigan Department of Natural resources, sometimes bobcats can be mistaken for cougars when sighted.

Adam Bump, a bear and furbearer specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the DNR has never verified a cougar sighting in the Lower Peninsula, but has done so 10 times in the Upper Peninsula. He told on Thursday that it would be unlikely to find a cougar in Washtenaw County because wild cougars rarely wander into populated areas.

“There’s a lot of reports with no physical evidence,” Bump said. “There’s been eyewitnesses but no pictures of the cat or of tracks or anything like that.”

Whether the animal she spotted in the road is a cougar, Tyagi said the discovery was frightening.

"It's scary," she said. "It’s kind of creepy because people are jogging around at that time and it's dark."

After the initial animal sighting, Brown warned residents to be wary of bringing small children and pets into the North Campus area. She said bicyclists should also be on the lookout when riding through the area.

View Mysterious animal sightings in Ann Arbor in a larger map

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:37 a.m.

Now don't forget, if this creature in question gets mange and turns all bald and scraggly-- it becomes a "Chupacabra" right before your very eyes! A new set of sightings will be reported, and people who couldn't tell Canis from Felis with hair on will suddenly be even more freaked out!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

That area has long had a deer herd nearby who feed from the dumpsters.- My first thought is that it was a coyote grown heavy on the scraps of food in that area.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

I know the story at hand is about a cougar, but I've seen two references to coyotes at Stadium and Packard and at Pi-Hi. I saw a coyote at Fifth Avenue and Jefferson St. (no kidding). My neighbor and I found the tracks, photographed them, and they more closely resembled the pointy print of a coyote rather than a roundish print of a dog. The size of the print was correct. The profile (tail below arch of back) was that of a coyote. Ergo, coyote spotted very near downtown in January.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

>>She said bicyclists should also be on the lookout when riding through the area Only 3 fatal attacks in the last decade in North America. I outran that many psycho pitbulls just last year while riding past farms in the country. 53x12, baby.

Could Be

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

The Dexter bear was followed by a tornado. Ann Arbor cougar portends....?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 7:05 a.m.

Standard practice is to set up a number of remote triggered digital cameras looking at live goats or graffiti-writing teens which are tethered in place as bait. Care must be taken though, in the movie Jurassic Park, baiting with a live goat lured a T. Rex. So perhaps it's better to just stick with graffiti-writing teens as your bait.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:02 a.m.

Probably a cougar. Go Cougars! Even if it is a bobcat, how rare is that?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

Somebody go talk to the guy that lost Dexter Bear.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

I seen it.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

Normally cougars stick to university bars, maybe this one is lost.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

it don't like Wolverines either.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

I just traded my old cougar in on a new Cadillac CTSV.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

I ran into a cougar last Saturday night! She was about 5'9", dirty blond (tan) hair, green eyes and recently divorce. She was very nice.

Lynn Glazewski

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

I'm betting that, given its longevity since the last reported sighting, the cougar lives with someone on the northeast side of town, and s/he lets it out at night to hunt/eat, because steak is expensive...... BTW, I saw the dog crossing Plymouth Rd this morning at 8:20. It looked like a poor, scared, medium-sized dog. No way, even in the dark, could someone mistake the dog for a cougar.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

A large coyote came out of the woods next to Pioneer High School two summers ago. It ran right down Snyder to Birk heading for Pauline. Several neighbors on Birk witnessed this.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

It was me. I've taken to practicing parcours at unusual hours.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

Thanks ya'll for the humor with these comments. Actually it could be quite serious if it actually is a real live cougar.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

The only cougars I've seen in Ann Arbor are up at Webers on Friday nights.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

It could be a cougar, if someone owned one illegally and it got away they certainly would not call the police. The whole story just goes to show that people are not inclined to believe eye witnesses if the story doesn't line up with their own preconceived notions.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

I don't think there is an eye witness that has said what they saw was definitely a Cougar is there?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

The DNR says there are NO cougars in the lower peninsula, period. But if you visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, you see posted signs telling you to be on the lookout for cougars! A cougar -- possibly two -- have been seen. (The DNR doesn't want to admit to the presence of cougars below the bridge because then it would need to develop a management plan.)


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:54 a.m.

so what they are really saying is "these are not the droids you are looking for"


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

About eleven years ago I asked A DNR officer ( Waterloo Area) why The state was telling people that gypsy moths would not kill their oak trees? She just repeated to me what her superiors had told her to say even though she was surrounded by thousands of trees had died in the area-- I found the encounter very strange.

Stella D

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

I have seen a coyote in front of our house a couple of times in the evening (near Packard and Stadium). I wonder if this was what it was?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

U of M had a gas leak today on North Campus. Witnesses say they saw a large cat, possibly a cougar, with a wrench in its right front paw, opening the gas valve. When approached, the cat dropped the wrench and bounded away. U of M police (not understaffed like Ann Arbor) closed the valve when they arrived moments later, and bagged the wrench so it could be dusted for paw prints.

Philip Chen-Author

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

LOL, wait til the local plumbers union hears about this. That cougar is a goner.

Spoarts Spoarts

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Who all seen the cougar say 'yeah'


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.



Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

Hash bash started early this year?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Maybe its an actor dressed up as a cougar?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

off topic here are you going to fix the link thing ? I just want to click on them


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

I agree; copy & paste is so old school. (worth hijacking this thread for your comment)


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

I had cougar years ago and it wasn't that good...even with a wild mushroom cream sauce....I'd rather have greasy bear...


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Ms. Tyagi's description of the animal "leaping" does sounds like a cat. Dogs and coyotes don't really leap as much as lope.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

I'll believe it when i see a picture. It shouldn't take long with the proliferation of cameras that make phone calls.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believed.........


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

I've seen a large cat-like animal, bigger than a house cat, on the side of 94 near Jackson road several times over the last 5 years or so.

Philip Chen-Author

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

My take on cougar sightings on the University of Michigan campus: I live in the Dixboro area. ;)


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

I'd bet that's the only cougar that's actually been spotted around here.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

you got me...;)


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

I'm not sayin' it's Aliens..... . . ....but it's Aliens!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

Might be adopted.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

yesterday's blog had questioned if this "cougar" was related to the Dexter would have to be by marriage.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

IF it's a wild cat, it would more than likely be a bobcat or lynx. Bobcats are a bit smaller and people have claimed to have seen them in Michigan over the years.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

I see bobcats every year at my property south of alpena. Never seen them this far south. Thought that the DNR had confirmed a cougar down this way through DNA testing of scat, a couple of years ago.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

It might be a leprechaun

Michigan Man

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

My good friend, down the street here in Downers Grove, Illinois was a leprechaun during this days at ND! He tells me did very well with his college aged peer women back in the day. Perhaps, cougars are now following him?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

I'm betting coyotes.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:21 a.m.

djm I hope that was tongue in cheek! Because probably half of them don't even know who the Vice President of this country is!


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

I would hate to think people don't know the difference between canine and feline species...especially around a college campus!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

"A cougar, which typically is 6-9 feet long from its nose to the end of its tail." or somewhere around 3 1/4 feet to 5 1/2 feet not counting the tail. But that doesn't sound as big.

Kevin Gillespie

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Over the past 5 years, my wife and I have seen what appeared to be a cougar 3 or 4 times in the area of North Territorial and Dixboro roads. Running like a cat, not a dog or a coyote and, from a size standpoint, impossible to mistake as a house cat or even a bobcat.