Cougar sightings continue across Ontario

My August Outdoors Guy column appeared last week in the Pembroke Daily Observer, and received more interest than any other column this summer.

Everyone, it seems, is interested in big cats!

Check it out:


The ever-elusive cougar is still being spotted across Ontario with regularity and the Upper Ottawa Valley is no exception.

As one of the few outdoor writers in Canada who monitors big cat sightings and reports regularly on the mystery of cougars in Ontario, I am privy to copious ‘Cougar Intel’ from across the province; including reports of big cats being spotted right here in the Valley. The often misunderstand mountain lion has evidently taken up residence in Ontario yet many folks still choose to turn a blind eye. The evidence is mounting as we get closer to determining the origin of these intriguing large felines.

Big cat theory

The only physical specimen the province has seen since the 1800s was a cougar (sadly) shot by police in Bracebridge area, in summer of 2012, which turned out to be an escaped captive animal. This is not to say that the half dozen or so big cat reports I receive each month are ALL domesticated animals, there is evidence to demonstrate that a West-East Migration may be occurring in Ontario. A cougar killed along a Connecticut highway in 2011, for example, was discovered by an American Wildlife Genetics Laboratory to have a genetic makeup consistent with the Black Hills of South Dakota. This cougar was believed to have travelled more than 1,500 miles in an unfathomable trek eastward. It is my theory that many of our Ontario cats could fall into this category. Keep your eyes peeled and should you catch a glimpse of a large brown or black cat with a long tail, please contact me:

Summer drawing to a close

Seasonal changes are upon us folks! Fish species like Northern pike and muskie which spent much of the summer in deep water will slowly emerge in the shallows. Seasonal movement is observed among white-tailed deer as well, with the buck’s antler development all but complete, resident males travel into open fields for the annual ‘meet and greet’. As the pre-season period approaches, these bucks will congregate to compare antlers size and establish the pecking order. Now is one of the best times to observe critters on the move so be on the look out.

2015 Ford Expedition, a beast in civil clothing

This summer when not out chasing cougars, I had the opportunity of road testing a 2015 Ford Expedition Platinum. The Expedition was a formidable beast indeed and the largest SUV I have reviewed to date. This rugged full-size comes with a new turbo V6 under the hood kicking out a more than ample 365 horses and impressive 420 foot-pounds of torque; propelling me soundly (and safely) down Highway 401 towards Niagara Falls. Had I been towing a boat or trailer, the 9,200-pound towing capacity would have completed the task in spades with the best towing capacity I have seen in a Sport Utility Vehicle.

Considering the Expedition’s mammoth footprint it handled more like a Ford Escape, and I had no trouble manoeuvring in and out of traffic. I enjoyed the MyFord Touch screen which covered all important vehicle parameters such as climate, entertainment and navigation. The acceleration, highway cruising speed and comfort level were excellent, and the Platinum trim came nicely appointed with blind spot indicator (BLIS), neat retractable running boards and large eight-inch MyFord Touch screen and moon roof, among other things.

This beast came dressed in civil clothing too as a sharp-looking and admirable ‘sportsmen hauler’ to say the least, available in both seven and eight-passenger with more than enough clout to get any hunter or fisherman safely off the grid. The four-wheel independent suspension had a lot to do with the Expedition’s superior ride quality, quite noteworthy for a nearly 6,000-pound vehicle. Average fuel consumption ranged from approximately 13-15 L/100 km, which isn’t too shabby given the magnitude of this SUV. Enthusiasts in this size-class don’t usually purchase based on fuel sipping capabilities. My time with the 2015 Ford Expedition was enjoyable from start to finish. For more information, check out the Ford of Canada site:

Next time!

Tune in next time for more exciting news from the back-40 including another informative product field-test report and the official kick-off to moose season.

52 thoughts on “Cougar sightings continue across Ontario”

  1. So really, the cougar shot in Bracebridge was a pet sighting, not a real cougar sighting. Sorry Jeff if I seem a bit skeptical but I am. If there were cougars in Ontario, I think we’d have read good footprints, real good hair samples, real good trail can pictures. There may be some, but they too may be unwanted pets or escaped penned animals……..or they could possibly be the real thing, but like I said, I’m skeptical

    1. Iggy, I know what you’re saying..Johan and many others are saying the same. If there are indeed cougars in ON why not more proof? Why not an actual animal specimen to show for it? The thing is, there are just far too many (credible) accounts from people who have described seeing, what could only be a cougar. You have to read some of the reports Ive rec’d over past couple of years..they are difficult to ignore. The one I rec’d this past week for example..the man is very seasoned outdoors man and he knows what he saw, at less than 40 feet away. What about the MNRF employee last week who reported a cougar near Peterborough? I also did receive photos of bonafide cougar prints taken near Hawkesbury this past spring. Saw them with my own two eyes and there is no mistaking a cougar track,
      and these were most certainly tracks from a cougar. I will have to post these.

      Now..are all these cougars spotted in many many areas of the province escaped captive animals?? How could there be so many cougars that have simply escaped or unregistered big cat owners? It doesn’t make sense to me…

      Hopefully one day we’ll have more evidence on whats going on.


  2. I hear you Jeff, just saying, if you lived in Alberta or BC and wanted to find evidence of cats, I’m pretty sure you could go out and find tracks, hair in barb wire fences, trailcam pics, but for some reason in Ontario none of this seems to be available. No doubt there is the odd cougar around, but hard evidence is irrefutable

  3. I’m a believer Jeff, despite all the unproven claims. I saw tracks in the snow a few years ago that made up my mind. Cougar.

    And as you say, sooner or later we’ll find out where they’re coming from. From the west, or coming up from the southern USandA (my bet), where they’re still common.

    If they were as abundant as deer around here, they’d a shown up on trail cams long ago. But getting a clear photo of one-of-the-few is highly unlikely in my opinion.

    There’s more evidence to show cougars are around than for the NDP to balance a budget.

    1. Ok Maple, but what about an NDP-Liberal Coalition Gov’t..could they balance a budget..hehe

      I hope you’re right about finding out more evidence soon! Oh, welcome back btw..if you are indeed back?


  4. Iggy – if the odd cougar has migrated from the West wouldn’t it be like looking for a needle in a haystack? one or two cougars in all of Ontario. Where would you set up a trailcam for instance?
    We have a few hundred cougars (Panthers) roaming around south west Florida and they are almost impossible to spot. My wife came face to face with one but most of the neighbours believe it was a bobcat.

    1. jay brings-up a good point about these cats being extremely wary and scarce..even in areas where they do exist in somewhat sizable numbers.


  5. When I was out hunting in BC last fall, one of the guys in our group was keeping on eye on one of the gut piles, from a muley, when a cougar showed up. He smelled the pile and then moved on. Did not realize you could shoot cougars out there. All you need is a tag. I would have liked to have seen that.

  6. Hey Outdoorsguy, I am not skeptical they could and do exist here in Ontario, I just need some proof. We put out cams in areas of high wildlife traffic so sooner or later we should get one on cam I would think. Interesting thing about cams is that animals always know it’s there. Speaking of my cam, I finally braved walking back to get my SD card. Since MAy, In order of appearance; fox, coyotes, turkeys, deer (3 does at least), porcupine, raccoon, and rabbit. Unfortunately, no bear, no cougars, and no sasquatch.

    1. HA..that’s about the order of appearance at my place too Johan..cept coons are usually in first place.

      Trust me..if I ever snapped some trailcam images of a cougar, I’d be plastering it everywhere..hehe


  7. Scott I’ve heard the same about Maxwell ‘ s. Appently they put out barbed wire and sand on the sidewalk and all they got was fake hair and holes from high heels hehe.

    Fair enough Jay, no trail cam evidence but tracks and hair is evidence enough for me and yet there seems to be none.
    I’m not saying there are none, but I like a little evidence, and so far the only evidence is human released cats

  8. These silly phones keep changing my words for me. What has life come to when a phone speaks for you…..

    1. No worries Uggs I fix..mine does that all the time too

      Ohh…and that big announcement could be coming next week. .nudge nudge


  9. Well there you have it fishr, proof. It was seen and left unmistakable evidence. That’s what we need in our area. It’ll be interesting, if they manage to trap this animal, exactly where it came from, whether it was a released animal or a wild one. One thing I know for sure, I hope I don’t meet up with one because apparently they are on you before you even know they are there.

  10. Shot today at Stittsville shooting range. 25 bucks for a chance to shoot at 100 and 300 yards. Pretty steep price.
    Shot the 300 Ultra Mag and the first two shots were 3 inches right at 100. Quick adjust and 2 inches high but dead centre. Out to 300 and I took 4 shots before the barrel was too hot but all of them were within 4 inches of the bull. So I guess that part is done. Came home and cooked two moose roasts for my moose dinner at the camp and that part is done. Now I need to get my pop tent and self climbing tree stand out of the garage and into the fresh air to get all that winter garage scent off them. In about 10 days it’ll be time to start washing the clothing with scentless soap and hanging it outside. Love this time of year. The big Maple tree across the road is just starting to change colours and that’s what gets me all perked up Sorry if I’m rambling

    1. Nice shooting iggs..and I can certainly sense your excitement! I think I know why you have the pop tent, we brought one to moose camp for years but never used it. The idea of sleeping out and being at your ‘calling site’ super early to set-up for the hunt was intriguing..although the cold Oct air and fear of bears always kept me from doing it…hehe

      Hope it works out for you!


  11. Na, I did think about sleeping out before but what I meant was an Ameristep tent that pops up for hunting out of. It the cats meow when it’s pouring rain, especially if you can find some high ground to put it on.

    1. A great Labour Day Weekend one and all!!

      Perhaps Mother Nature will shine on Mrs. Outdoors Guy and I, with a few largies and northerns at boat side. Might check out the Shawville Fair as well…its one of the biggest up the valley ya know, QC-side that is!


  12. Corn roast and BBQ at the cottage this weekend, might try to get in a game of golf too. Soon golf will be a forgotten sport and hunting will be all I think of

  13. I was shown pictures around 2010 of a cow that was the victim of a MNR confirmed cougar kill .This cow was part of a herd belonging to a coworker living on his farm on the Grand river upstream from Cayuga downstream from York . The cow had a very large wound on the side and top of its neck with most of the tissue missing . I have seen what I believe to be cougar prints in the wood lot near my cottage mid way between Nanticoke and Selkirk .

  14. The fellow that owns Brennan s Hill Hotel saw a cougar on his farm this past week. Apparently the Quebec MNR admitted they released some cougars to help control the deer population.
    Jeff you must know people in the Quebec MNR that could give you the low down on this.
    That might explain some of the Ontario sightings as I’m pretty sure cougars don’t respect border

    1. Sorry Iggs, but you know how many times I’ve heard that ‘cougar release’ story..on both sides of the river. I have spoken with QC Ministry guys about it over the years and, like most other people they’ve heard that rumor, but none of them would ever authenticate it. Same for here in ON, that story has been circulating for probably 30 years now, but no proof has ever been documented that I know of.

      Interesting though, to hear that big cats are being spotted up in Brennan’s Hill area..would love to hear more about that.

      More evidence on the West-East Migration theory are cougars photographed in Michigan in recent years with radio collars on them. The only radio-collar program for cougars exists in the Far west, 1000 miles and more from Michigan.

      So how could big cats wearing radio collars end-up in Michigan if they hadn’t migrated from the West?

      I’ll try to find those images..I’ve posted them in the blog previously.


    2. Didn’t fishr mention something recently about a cougar attack on a horse in QC’s Eastern Townships?


  15. I can’t believe that any ministry would release a large predator in an attempt to control deer populations, just doesn’t make sense. Too much risk in a hyper litigious world we live in even if the cats used to be here. Giving hunters extra tags proved to be an effective way to thin the deer population; too good in fact. It was followed up by two tough winters, and slow tag re-adjustments resulting in the populations being still down in a lot of areas. Mine included. I rarely see deer in my area now.
    Buddy is off next week to try to fill his cow elk tag and I hope he does so I can get a taste!

    1. johan, I agree with you. I’ve never believed that rumour from the get-go, just never made sense from a ‘Wildlife Conservation’ standpoint. Say all you want about the MNRF but I don’t believe they EVER would have done anything so silly…QC side either..just doesn’t add up.



  16. Jeff, I provided a link to the cougar attack above. It occurred in the Monteregie region of Quebec, due east of Cornwall, and is reminiscent of the attack that happened on the horse near Barrhaven last February. The wounds are high up on the horse’s haunches, so it’s unlikely that a coyote would have been responsible.

  17. Ok fair enough Johan and Jeff. Now put this into your equation, on the Quebec side very few doe tags are given, even the ones that are, are quite often left empty. So what other way do they have to cull the breeding population. Ontario is a totally different story. Doe tags are given and used but Quebecers have no time for taking does.

  18. I know certain cougars have a voracious appetite but there is no way in hell a 4 legged one can cull the herd that much @ IGGY

  19. I agree Chessy, I didn’t say it, I’m just repeating it. However if they let one go you can be sure they let pairs go, and you know what goes with pairs!

  20. Chessy, they let them go in pairs, so they MATE. Then the have kittens, before you know it, we end up with lots of them

  21. OK, I can get my head around the four legged cougars, having a hard time understanding
    why Quebecers have no time for does?

    1. imacdon, I was wondering about that myself and I’ve hunted QC regularly for past 35 years.

      What Iggs says is true about antlerless deer tags in QC tho..numbers are very low, and he is prob referring to Zone 10 around his cottage. Where we hunt in Zone 9, there aren’t more than perhaps 120 extra tags up for grabs each fall, and our Zone covers a very large area of the Laurentians. My gang doesn’t even participate in the tag draw anymore..tried it for prob 15 years in a row…and guess how many tags we/they won in that time?


      We got tired of giving the QC Government extra money for nothing. Granted, we don’t have a high density of deer in the mountains where we are and, really, there shouldn’t even be an antlerless deer draw up there. Deer numbers still need to rebuild. In the area closer to Ottawa River where Iggs is referring to the deer numbers are much higher, closer to what you see here in eastern ON.


  22. fishr – that QC attack and wounds are what I would expect from a large cat, moreso than the other one but I am no expert. Animals do funny things.
    The QC side could give out more tags to cull the herd, they choose not to. It’s a way easier solution than introducing cats. Not saying it couldn’t happen, just that it’s unlikely that anyone would sign their name to that order. I will bet with beef prices climbing deer poaching will become more prevalent and I suspect more doe tags will get filled out of need more than sport. I rarely even apply for a doe tag myself unless I plan to bow hunt. If I was travelling to QC to deer hunt and had tags I would have no problem filling them based on what you are saying Iggy

    1. johan, in the past 35 years I’ve hunted deer on QC side, and past 20 years writing about it, there hasn’t been many seasons when the herd actually required thinning. As mentioned, in the more Ag. areas of the Outaouais and in southern portions of Eastern Townships, deer numbers are higher. With much of the province lying in the north, QC does not have the deer population of ON..except of maybe Anticosti island.

      To release cougars in that province to control numbers that ‘rarely’ needed controlling outside of hunting, would have been ridiculous.


  23. Saw 8 deer this morning on may way out and back in on road. Fawns still have spots.
    Saw a spike with a doe, still in velvet.

  24. Ok I’m going to try one more time to explain this. The hunters in Quebec have no time, will, nor want to hunt does, it’s frowned upon, laughed at. When I tell them we have six doe tags at our camp in Ontario they laugh at me. It’s part of their culture, the way they are brought up. Shoot a buck or your not a real hunter.

    The doe population around my cottage are incredible. Bucks however are in short supply. I actually think the bucks are over hunted and now most of the bucks that come in for weighing are small scrawny and young, but hey it’s a buck

    It’s not the way I feel, but the Quebec hunter feels that way.
    I’m not an expert on all Quebec but that’s the way the area I visit is.
    And I don’t know one hunter there that applies for a doe tag, absolutely no interest.

    1. Iggs, I know what you’re saying about the ‘stigma’ of shooting does in QC, but I can tell you it wasn’t always that way. Listening to my Dad and older guys talk about ‘back in their day’ when the season was 2 months long and you could shoot anything you liked, there were lots of antlerless deer on the ground.

      I think in past 2-3 decades though..most camps back home take bucks only, so you do have a point. The number of antlerless deer taken at our camp in past 35 years?? Only one!!

      Funny thing is, the buck-doe ratio has always remained high, don’t ask me how. Even overall deer numbers were down, there was still usually more bucks that does around.
      I guess they call that ‘reverse game management’..hehe

      Go figure..



  25. Well the thing is, nature probably has some type of control and when the buck populations drop and more does are hoping to get bred, there may be something in mother nature that produces more bucks, but I know the ones up at the cottage are small and there is certainly no bucks fighting for territory.
    Example: At our hunt camp (also Bob the Butchers area) you can walk though the bush and you’ll always find scrapes and rubs, and the deer population is about 50/50 but a low number per square km.
    At the cottage I can go days of dogging but not see any scrapes or rubs, there are so many does and so few bucks they don’t need to make territory

  26. Small bucks? Could be because everyone waits to kill the big ones so the smaller ones get all the breeding they can handle without working for it. Small parents, small kids? My deep and untested theory.
    I heard rumours of cougar sightings near Spencerville. Then again the fair is on and April Wine is playing… Coincidence?

    1. Heyohh Johah! ‘Just between you and me’ I bet there were lotttts of cougars at the April Wine show!! incidentally, AW was my very first rock concert – 1981 Lansdowne Park at Super Ex; featuring Lover Boy as opening act….ohh the memories.


  27. Jeff
    Have you been following the EBR number 012-4734 on the use of relaxing cable restraints to capture predating coyotes? I am interested in your coments

  28. I’m sure I saw one of these run across Saint John’s side road in Stouffville this morning. My daughter and I were in the car and when it ran across the road, I stopped the car and we both were like “what the heck- was that a lion???” And we could see it jumping through the tall grass in the field across the road with something large in its mouth.

    1. Sorry Kim, your report was lost in spam folder. Ive had several reports of big cats in your area!

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