Another summer of Ontario cougar sightings!

Last summer you may recall my interview with Shawn Heggert; a man who lives in a small town southeast of Ottawa. Shawn is an avid outdoorsman – hunter and fisherman – like many of us are, and is always watching the fields and forests near his house for signs of wildlife.

While driving his vehicle near Mountain last summer, something peculiar caught his attention.

A large brown ‘cat’ with a long tail was running along the roadside in front of him. It was a cougar and Shawn knows wildlife well enough to realize what one looks like.

“I wasn’t hard to tell this guy was a cougar, I mean, he was only 30 yards away and it was  broad daylight!” said Heggert.

Upon returning home, Shawn got on the Internet and began searching Ontario Cougars, which led him to one my articles in the Ottawa SUN from Summer, 2012, with the story of the cougar shot by Police in the Muskoka’s.

Since I interviewed Shawn about his cougar sighting last summer, copious other sightings have flowed, like sap in springtime, to my email Inbox . I have received, on average, 1 cougar sighting per month over the past two years and from all over the place.

There must be something to it is all I have to say! Could it be that all these sightings are from ‘pets’ or ‘formerly captive’ cougars?

Sure, the one killed by police two summers ago in the Muskoka’s had evidently been a captive animal (it had been declawed) but there are far too many sightings, across the province each year to ALL be escaped pets.

It seems no one wants to believe that a remnant population of the (now believe to be) extinct Eastern Cougar might exist in Eastern Canada, yet the sightings continue to grow in numbers. Or perhaps the other theory of an west-east expansion is more plausible? (This is the one I subscribe to)

At any rate, the number of cougar sightings continues to grow and expand into areas of the province beyond the current central & eastern Ontario cougar hotspots.

I mean, I’ve heard of cougars (4-legged) being spotted within ear-shot of downtown Toronto!!

It will be interesting to see what transpires with this one the MNR are actively trying to live trap in Peterborough.(Story by Pete Fisher of the Peterborough Examiner) To my knowledge, this is one of the first efforts the Ministry has made to live trap a cougar. (Not even sure that live trapping was attempted in case of Bracebridge cougar killed by police)

Many of the folks who’ve contacted me since 2012 stated that they got in-touch with their MNR office and were told, flat out, that cougars DO NOT exist in the province.

This live-trapping effort in Peterborough suggests that our MNR now admits, in this case anyway, that we may have some large cats roaming the province of Ontario after all.

Seen a cougar? Drop me a line anytime! I don’t own a culvert trap, but I’m willing to listen intently with an open mind!

(theoutdoorsguy@rogers.com)

Outdoorsguy

Note: Since I know Pete Fisher of the Peterborough Examiner, I contacted him yesterday about this story; which falls close to his backyard. He is providing me with updates…

42 thoughts on “Another summer of Ontario cougar sightings!”

  1. Literature from the west says cougars are bad for killing livestock.If we have wild cougars in ontario one would think municipal livestock valuers would be getting more calls.

    1. The cougar near Crafton was caught in the MNR’s bear culvert trap last night!!
      It was lured-in with a T-bone steak and whole chicken. (Works for me every time..hehe)

      Initial reports seem to indicate this cougar was an escaped captive animal, and NOT a wild cougar. (Dammit)

      Stay tuned…

      Outdoorsguy

    1. Chessy, is that your pet cougar? They’re saying it must have been a captive animal because it never showed any aggression, however it was NOT declawed.

      They suspect an individual who lives in that area of Grafton..and who has owned large cats in the past.

      Still, the dozens of cougar sightings in ON each year can’t ALL be pet cougars.
      I just received another report yesterday, a fellow in the Windsor area was photographing deer when he noticed a cougar in the images when he got home. Plus he photographed the prints, scat and several scratching posts in the area!

      Iggy, without doing DNA testing(& if the cougar had NOT been declawed)..I don’t beleive they can confirm 100% if the animal was captive or not.

      Outdoorsguy

  2. if it is the one I thinking about jeff it will be a black tipped deer which is photo shopped … yes lots of sightings… there would have to be some …

    1. Chessy, I know the photo you’re thinking of and this isn’t it. This one, along with the rest of the images he sent, look very authentic to me. I’m getting permission to post all his material. He claims that several others have seen the same cat in that area over past 3 years or so…I am not convinced that a domesticated cougar would even last 3 years in the wild…

      Outdoorsguy

  3. Considering we are allowed to use hounds to hunt deer and moose why has there not been a cougar seen or taken by deer/moose hunters?

    And with the proliferation of trail cams we still do not have any photos of cougars.

    I am still a skeptic!

    1. Hey Rick, I just got permission for a lad in Windsor area to post his images and info from a recent sighting…apparently this big cat has been seen in that region for some time…

      Are you saying you’re as sceptical about cougars as you are the sasquatch?
      Or is it ‘wild cougars’ you’re sceptical about?

      Outdoorsguy

  4. Speaking of which, I heard the ministry introduced sasquatch years ago to manage the cougar population…apparently it worked, Recent studies have indicated that the sasquatch population has slowly migrated back to their native range which is why we no longer see them.
    I’ll believe cougars are here when I see one.

    1. johan, flying squirrels are rare too but we know they’re around..how many have you seen? What about Jackson Salamanders, or martens, or the Blandings turtle…how many of those have you seen in the wild?

      Just because you haven’t seen a cougar, doesn’t mean they’re not there..

      Just like the sasquatch..ok, that one is a bit more a stretch

      There are far too many sightings, tracks, scat, scratching posts, vids, photos out there for this to be a hoax.

      Outdoorsguy

  5. We hunt with dogs. In all the time I have been hunting we have only pushed out
    1 sow with two cubs. That was a young dog that pushed them out. With all the bear sighting in the area, I was always sure we’d see more? Dogs don’t like bears, Probably don’t like cougars either. I’ve learned over the years that dogs aren’t stupid.

  6. this cat has been around for a while… it does not like horse meat… probaly because it has been shot at chasing horses lol aparently this cat is a very picky eater …

  7. I spent the last two weeks on vacation watching flying squirrels in the late evening/early night, feeding, flying, and chasing each other up and down and between trees. Only times they got quiet was when the raccoons came by for food, but as soon as the raccoons left the flying squirrels began to get active again. Seem to be living in an hollowed part of a maple tree, about 6-9 in the colony.

    1. Big Zack, that sounds like quite the flying critter show you witnessed!
      What part of the country are you in?

      Outdoorsguy

    1. Yes, anyone who traps has surely seen a lot of flying squirrels. As the only squirrel in NA which includes meat in their diet, these little guys often end-up as incidentals in a trapper’s fisher, marten, etc set.

      How many did you catch last winter, Trapper?

      Outdoorsguy

  8. Outdoors guy, I see lots of flying squirrels at the camp north of Kaladar but that’s the first and only place I have seen them. Camp was invested with them and a few were weeded out because of the damage they were doing.
    I don’t say that cougars aren’t here, just that no one seems to be able to get pictures and if all of that sign exists, post it so I know what I am looking for. There is absolutely enough food for them to exist around here with abundant wild and domestic options on the menu.
    There are more Elvis sightings, does that mean he’s alive too?
    I was told by someone that coyotes don’t like horse meat either, not sure if that’s true or not. I know they don’t have a problem with the bones and carry them all over the place.

    1. This vid taken in the LaSalle area of ON near Windsor (Not to be mistaken with Ville Lasalle the Montreal suburb)

      The post I’m working on with a fellow from that Region claims this video was taken(by someone else) in the same general area as his cougar sightings (& photos) were.

      Outdoorsguy

  9. @ Jeff Morrison In the Val-Des-Monts region of PQ, one of the lakes surrounding Lac MacGregor. Saw lots of wildlife activity, raccoons, F/squirrels, young Mink and Leopard frogs, still no young bullfrogs on our lake but some move in from other lakes every year, lots of toad activity, copious numbers of Chipmunks and red squirrels, one black one with blond tail, lots of non-game bird activity, frequent Broadwing and red-shouldered hawk fly-overs, semi resident Great bluie Heron, and Peregrine spotted going into forest canopy about three miles from my cottage (near an area that has a natural shelf like cliff, have seen nesting there in the past). Haven’t dropped a line in water yet, but when tossing a frog out about 8 feet from shore he has about 3 seconds before a very large Smallmouth gobbles him/her/it up, nesting site in prior years. Earlier this summer saw wild turkey tom crossing road directly in front of our car, had to stop and let him cross before continuing on our way, have run into W/T deer on same road in prior years (multiple times per year as the deer run crosses our road midway up a very large and steep hill, not recomended to stop on hill unless only passengers in car).

  10. National Geographic had no problem getting trail camera photos in its December 2013 magazine.Why is it so hard to get a confirmed photo in southern Ontario if their are so many cougars?

  11. Predation books say it is common for cougars to kill larger prey. It is not as common for bears to kill large prey in Ontario. The method of killing is similar. Cougars leave a clean cut edge where a bear leaves a tearing edge on the carcass. Both may cover the carcass with grass and leaves.The obvious is that cougars will kill all year round and bears are sleeping in the winter.If one uses the Puma Foundations population of 550 and a kill every 10 days that is198,000 kills a year.Their should be lots of evidents.

  12. I don’t offer anything “scientific” to add – but I can offer my own personal experience. I’m a city guy – but I love upstate NY and Ontario’s wilderness. It could be possibly a mix of wild transients and escaped/released captives that people are seeing in Ontario/upstate NY/New England. Recall that 3 years ago a wild cougar that supposedly migrated all the way from South Dakota was killed on a highway in Connecticut. The cougar had been seen in fairly densely populated Greenwich in Fairfield County (which is only 30 miles from NYC). People had pictures of it and the state of CT refused to ackowledge. Then when the one was killed they said “oh it must have been captive”. It’s only after testing they admitted that it was wild. That was June 2011. Then 2 months later the State of NY DEC admitted that in December 2010 a woman did indeed have a wild cougar in her yard – and that upon DNA confirmation – it was the same one killed in CT 6 months later. None of this is speculation – this is verifiable fact. My point is – if that animal hadn’t been killed in CT 6 months later – they would still pretend they didn’t have any info.

    My own personal experience is similar. It is a well known phenomenon that eastern coyotes are now living and breeding in The Bronx in NYC! However I saw coyotes YEARS before the city finally admitted it. I saw them in The Bronx and in Yonkers. In The Bronx I saw them along the Bronx River Parkway and in Yonkers I saw one cross busy and very wide Central Ave. Granted – they were both late at night – but point is most ppl didn’t believe they were around – and these are extremely densely populated areas.

    About 20 miles north of NYC in White Plains I have a relative who for years had been seeing coyote late at night – and even a bobcat in the daytime. No one believed her except me (I’ve still never seen a bobcat)… Sure enough – years later a woman was walking her pitbull on a wooded trail and a female coyote who was denning with her pup attacked it. Then it was all over the news and people started to believe. Then a few weeks later – an indisputable photo of a bobcat in someone’s yard nearby. Then it comes out that “oh yeah” a wildlife camera 10 miles north of there had been seeing bobcats for years.
    My point is that this is a very densely populated area… If coyotes were here for years before becoming “official” – I have no doubt that cougars could be living in the wild and no one saw it. That cougar that was in Lake George, NY – which is supposedly the animal killed in CT… No one had a picture until it was in CT. Though it was supposedly tracked from South Dakota on trail cams. Well – how come no one found any kill sites? The animal was in good health – so it was surely eating. Yet though they found tracks in Lake George and CT – there was no kills ever found – and only 2 civilian pictures. I think cougars would have no trouble not being seen deep in the woods.

  13. My fly fishing buddy and his friend were fishing in a wild section of the Credit river in Caledon (we call it the jungle because it’s really rough going thru that section- no one is crazy enough to try to fish it) a year ago. They heard some thrashing in the bush near them so one of them went to check it out. He saw a cougar in a tree, they looked at each other for a moment and then the cougar jumped down and took off.
    Even crazier (I know you’ll think I’m nuts), my friend and I often walk our dogs in a hydro field in Thornhill (north Toronto). Again no one else walks thru there as it’s marshy, buggy and it’s loaded with coywolfs. There are also deer, tons of rabbits a hidden pond, hawks, etc. This past summer the dogs chased out a wolverine. I know, impossible right? I’ve seen live wolverines in wildlife compounds up close so I know what they look like and how they behave. It left the dogs in the dust and jumped over an 8 ft chain linked fence in less than 1 second. We both saw it from about 60 feet. No sense telling MNR because they will not believe us. We also want to keep this self contained local wild life area to ourselves. BTW, years ago a cougar was spotted near our cottage near Huntsville. The MNR does not readily admit that cougars live in Ontario because they don’t want to panic the public.

  14. Two sightings in the Glanbrook area of southern Ontario. The most recent was this week which has me researching but I will start with the first in early spring 1987. We bought the house 2 months earlier. Having breakfast one morning, I saw a very large black cat straight back behind our property which opens to a field and woods to the immediate right. My husband and I watched it trying to figure out what it was -tall, black with a long drooping tail near to the ground and tipping upwards. Nothing like a dog. It moved like a cat and was much larger than a dog. We were sure it was a wild black cat of some sort and called a local private zoo to see if they lost a cat – puma, jaguar or whatever. They said no but asked where we live (?) A few hours later we went out to the woods and as the ground was soft from recent melting we looked for tracks and found them. I took photographs and placed my hand in the paw print bending my fingers inwards at the middle knuckles was the size of the print. There were no claw marks as there would be if it was a black coyote and way too big. We then thought it wise to get out of there as it could be in the trees. A few weeks later we met our neighbours for the first time who told us about an odd sighting of a row of about 10 people, dressed in white going across the field looking downwards. The very next day after we saw the cat!
    Some 20 years later i was talking to colleagues about it when one of them said hey…when was that? I answered that it was years ago….she said she lived with her parents about 2km from us in Haldimand and in the spring of 1987 they saw a large black cat! We assume it escaped from somewhere.

    Fast forward to this week. My son is down for the holidays and just before noon on Dec 23 he saw a very large beige cat come down the side of our property along the treeline, hugging the ground. We had a large blonde lab and he estimated it about that size but hard to tell as it slunk so low. He said it was beige, black around the ears, not a house cat type of face, long tail that had blackish rings starting about half way up. It came all the way up…disappeared at the back of the pool and he doesn’t know where it went. He said it was muscular, very short hair. Unfortunately he didn’t get a picture. So looking online I thought for sure it must be a bobcat. He says no way – doesn’t match at all – not the face and the tail was way longer and thinner..not furry. I found that young cougars have stripped black tails. I convinced myself last night it was a bobcat until my son got up today and said no way…not what he saw…no matter how many images i showed him of ages and species that could be in our area. No idea what he saw but I would love to know! (btw..our lab was 80-90 pounds in terms of my son’s estimation of size) (My son has perfect eye sight at 22 yrs old lol and the cat was seen from 200 feet walking towards him/the house – so he got a good look)

  15. A few weeks back in the middle of December along the Thames River just East of London we were almost at my daughters house that backs along the banks of the Thames River .. This large animal came up from the river , went across the road into a field . I have never seen anything like it before and I’ve lived here for many years. It reminded me of our large yellow lab but a whole lot bigger and ran lean and long ..I said to my daughter ..That’s a Cougar! ..Then I come to find out that just west of us along the river area of the golf course there were some officers checking out a shredded deer carcass and paw prints . There was someone else or others that seen the same cougar and the police were checking it out. I’ve searched for anything online that I can find but nothing pops up about the recent London sighting ? .. has anyone else seen anything. I called the MNR but never received a call back .. There are plenty of deer in our area that could support a cougar .. but I also hear they do not stay put for long ? ..

  16. A friend of mine got 3 pictures on his trail cam of a cougar, I will get those pictures and post them, the cougar was near his backyard, he lives just outside Brentwood which is located just nw of Angus and close to the Minnising swamp. The pics are quite clear, in color and in the daytime.

  17. Hi Darren .. Can’t wait to see the pictures .

    I hear the MNR wont confirm Cougar sightings unless they have solid proof. Will your friend be showing them these pictures ?

    1. Hi Elaine & Darren, Angela & Leon, thanks to all of you for reporting your cougar sightings!

      Darren, if you’d like to send your images to me, I will be creating a new cougar blog post this week.

      Given the number of recent sightings throughout Ontario, there is little doubt that cougar numbers are increasing.

      Regarding the MNR, their reluctance to pursue any cougar programs in ON is probably more to due with lack of finances.

      You can PM me any pics or other info you have to (theoutdoorsguy@rogers.com)

      Thanks again for your information on this magnificent rare beast. I may be contacting you individually for this new cougar article

      Regards

      Outdoorsguy

  18. Cats (cougars) are true carnivors and only eat meat. They also do not like carrion.This means they must kill frequently especially in the summer. In the last 15 years why has no one put a camera on a kill and got good photos of a cougar like the ones in December 2013 National Geographic. It shows how many are killed on the road and mentions they predate on livestock. In Ontario predation claims are declining.Funny when every community has lots of cougar sightings.

  19. The biologists at MNR should be ashamed of themselfs. There is already plenty of credible evidence to support the idea of a relic population of eastern cougars living within Ontario. In my personal opinion, having studied Ecological Restoration and Wildlife Management at Sir Sandford Fleming College, there is without a doubt an existing population of eastern cougars, living in Ontario, that are not neither transients from a western population nor previously captive breed animals. It is also a known fact that male cougars can travel up to 1500km in search of a mate.. MNR is cash-strapped; doesn’t have the appropriated funds to do a proper assesment survey, and even if they did concluded that there was indeed a population of eastern cougars, they still couldn’t provide the nessicary funds for a proper habitat rehabilitation program. Shame on the government for brushing this one “under the rug”.

  20. In regards to cougar, puma, mountain lion identification, tracks are similar to a domestic dog, cats are usually of a distinct tan colouration, have a thick, curved, rope like tail, with a black tip, white facial markings, and white markings on the rear. Any professional biologist should be able to tell the difference between a lynx, bobcat, domestic cat and cougar.

  21. http://m.ottawasun.com/2015/02/03/ottawa-womans-horse-attacked-by-unknown-animal

    I know this link doesn’t contain the full article, because its written by the Ottawa Sun, but the pictures I saw regarding this incident screamed cougar predation. There has also been a recent sighting by a motorist, who saw a cougar on the shoulder of the 417 highway, going east bound, near Moodie Drive, and also another report of a farmer who found a cougar sleeping in the loft of his barn, out in Dunrobin.

  22. I live in northern Ontario and we have had many sightings of cougars in the wild. we used to be told that it was maybe just one, however last summer a female was seen with 2 cubs! which indicates that they are breeding.

  23. I’ve been working with forest company now since 1987. So far I seen 4 cougar in 3 different location in Ontario throughout my career. My 1 sighting was in West of Elk Lake off the beauty lake road, The second was in South of Chapleau and about 6 years later 2 sighting south of Hearst within 2 months. The 1st sighting was reported to the MNR but we got laughed at by them. so didn’t report none of the others and never will report anything too them again. So they are here believe it or not. also 1 year after spotting the Elk Lake one a MNR employee from Temagami sighed one in by bass lake in Cobalt ON as per the local newspaper reporting.

  24. With so many cougars in southern Ontario one would think it would be easy to find tracks in the snow with tail bob marks from that thick curved rope like tail. Post photos of these tracks and maybe MNR would have something to go on. If their are cougars their has to be tracks.

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