Free-ranging genotype cougar of unknown origin killed in Muskoka



Well, it finally happened….a free-ranging North American genotype cougar originating from an unknown combination of released, escaped, native, or dispersed animal, has been shot and killed by Ontario.




This is the description of ‘cougar’ taken from a recent edition of the Canadian Field Naturalist journal – referring to evidence found throughout the province regarding the existence of cougars in Ontario – and not the actual description of the cougar killed on the weekend.


So, what was this animal killed then?


A bona fide cougar has been found and put down in Ontario, following reports of a family dog being attacked by a very large cat – the cougar was tracked down and killed near the Muskoka town of Utterson(Not far from Bracebridge in Central ON)


This cougar is hard evidence of the animal’s existence and the first to surface in the province since 1884, which is hard to fathom given the number of cougar sightings in central and eastern Ontario over the last 20 years.


But was this animal an actual eastern cougar once believed to be extinct, or at least extirpated, in this part of the country? The jury is still out on that one.


Anyone else notice the irony in the fact that we had been discussing cougars heavily on the Outdoors Guy Blog, in the two weeks leading up to this event in Muskoka?  It’s almost like we had some sort of premonition… spooky!!




Map of Ontario Cougar sightings (Courtesy of the Ontario Puma Foundation)



39 thoughts on “Free-ranging genotype cougar of unknown origin killed in Muskoka”

  1. don’t know if I’m allowed to do this but I’ll try
    looks like we are still looking for the real wild ones
    “The attack occurred Saturday night in Utterson, southwest of Huntsville, at a home across the road from Guha’s Tiger and Lion Farm, an exotic cats menagerie.

    Investigators have not confirmed a link between the attack and Guha’s, but they are “aware” of the zoo, said Jolanta Kowalski, spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources.

    The cat’s front claws had been removed, “which usually indicates that it can be an escaped or released captive animal,” she said. ”


    The front claws had been removed, so we’ll keep looking

  2. Iggy, thanks for the info – I didn’t know there was an exoctic cats farm nearby.

    Regardless, these things exist in the wild. People have seen them, scratch marks on horses etc.. Just a few months ago there was a video of an alleged sighting in Beckwith.

    I’ve said it before – these things scare the crap out of me. Why? Because they will hunt anything (humans included) and I’m not a big guy (not that I think it would matter much). doh!

  3. Jeff, that’s exactly what Iggy is saying…..Sometimes I wonder what life would be like without news papers.

    1. By the location “attack occurred Saturday night in Utterson, southwest of Huntsville”, I wasn’t sure it was even the same one.

      Obviously if they noticed this animal had been declawed in the front, there’s a pretty good chance it was captive at one time. Doesn’t really sound like a bona fide eastern Cougar to me. Too bad


  4. I was thinking the same when I read the article yesterday… how strange! Sounds to me like it was a captive cat… but where did it come from originally? Could it have been taken from the wild at a young age?

    1. GPG, about 8-9 years ago I interviewed a guy from Monkland (near Cornwall) for an article I was working-on for Outdoor Canada magazine. This fellow was letting his dog out one night when a large cat with a long tail jumped out of the bushes and grabbed him by the arm.

      Investigators confirmed his bites were consistent with that of a cougar, but they suspected it was an escaped animal as opposed to a natural eastern Cougar.


  5. Hey Jeff, a good friend of mine near Ingleside said his son saw a cougar run across the road in front of him a few weeks ago. His son know what they are and look like, plus he’s not one to talk any bull.


    1. OK Pic, lemme get this straight, your friend saw a bull or a cougar? I’m confused now…

      Well, Ingleside isnt too far from Monkland..I suppose that cougar bite years ago could have been from a bona fide eastern cougar.


  6. Last Saturday night I went out late and I was attacked by what I believe was a pack of cougars! I LoneStar on St-Laurent is a dangerous place!! Haha

    1. hehe….good one GPG, but you should know better than to go upstairs in Lone Star after the music starts…hehe


      1. I just posted an interesting map above..of the recorded Ontario Cougar Sightings over the years…green means sightings in the past 10-years.

        Man, let me tell you there are a lotttts of ‘green’ in central and eastern ON!


    1. Yes Lions, that certainly looks like a cougar although smaller than the one that was killed. This vid is probably old. Any word on whether any of Guha’s animals had recently escaped??

      That place is 10 mins outside of Bracebridge..which isnt too far away from what I recall, so the possibility is certainly there.

      Ok, just looked on the map and Utterson and Bracebridge are very close actually.


  7. I am no expert but there is plenty of food for cougars in the wild so it stands to reason that it was a previously caged animal to be that close to humans when there is really no other reason than association to food. Too bad it had to be killed because it was hungry, especially if it was a pet at some point.

    1. That’s right Johan, my sentiments exactly. Many other cougar sightings around ON seem to be in more remote areas with fewer people around.

      Btw, following a letter I received today from the MNR’s Dr Rick Rosatte, I have made revisions to my original article (above) it seems the quote I used did not actually come from Dr Rosatte himself.


    Reversing the province’s previous position, Ontario’s chief firearms officer (CFO) announced Wednesday a letter will be sent to gun stores this week, telling merchants they will no longer be compelled to keep personal information on buyers.

    Nova Scotia is also ending the controversial practice.

    The CFO also said existing long-gun registry data – including the paper ledgers – will be destroyed.

    Both provinces had earlier ordered gun shops to continue keeping the data despite the federal government axing its long-gun registry in the spring.

    The move angered licensed gun owners who said the practice was just the long-gun registry by another name.

    Last week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, frustrated by the continued collection of data, changed a regulation in the firearms act, which directly ordered all provincial firearms officers to stop forcing gun shops to write down the names, addresses and telephone numbers of buyers, as well as the types of rifles and shotguns being purchased.

    “My understanding of the law is that the federal government passed this with the intention that all of this information be destroyed. We are going by the law,” said Chris Wyatt, chief firearms officer for Ontario.

    “We are going to do two phases. We will collect the long gun information and have it destroyed as soon as possible, and then we will ask the merchants to separate the papers that are mixed with restricted weapons and hand guns, and then have the long gun portions blacked out and destroyed.”

    On Tuesday, the justice ministry in Nova Scotia announced it will also send out letters to all gun sellers, telling them they are no longer required to keep buyers’ information.

    “We have now received direction from the federal program, the RCMP, indicating that businesses are no longer required to collect and maintain that data for our use,” said Roger Merrick, the province’s director of public safety investigations.

    Merrick said the province told its gun sellers to keep the information prior to this because they hadn’t been specifically directed to stop.

    “The businesses can still keep the information for their own purposes – say if someone writes them a cheque. But it will no longer be collected by the government.”

    Nova Scotia ledgers with the personal information were kept by the stores, or locked in a vault controlled by the province, and Merrick says those past records will stay there because the long gun information is mixed in with restricted handgun data and it would be impossible to sift out and destroy.

    The NDP government of Nova Scotia says it has no intention of starting a provincial registry.

    Ontario has said the same, but some Toronto city politicians have expressed interest in a city gun registry, along with a ban on any and all ammunition.

    1. That is good news Iggs..I wonder, though, if QC intends to use the Nova Scotia excuse that “long gun information is mixed in with restricted handgun data” making it impossible to sift through. Although I’m sure Nova Scotia has no intention of rekindling this data, you never know what our friends across the river might do.

      You’re right though..overall it is great news!


      1. Well, my sources tell me the cougar has been sent to Guelph for a ‘post mort’ and the results (as to whether it is a wild or previously captive animal) should be known soon! I’ll keep you posted on that…

        In meantime if you get a chance, check-out Dr. Rick Rosatte’s paper featured in the Canadian Field-Naturalist Journal. It sheds some light on the presence of cougars in this province:


  9. While the province receives a number of reports of cougar sightings every year, Hlady said people often mistake other animals, including domestic cats, for mountain lions.

  10. I did see a cougar myself early last year, it was crossing a field near Maxville. I wish I had my camera with me that day …

    1. Pit, there must be a cluster of cougars in that region…I’ve heard of cougar sightings in Monkland, Russell and Casselman as well…

      These days you almost need to carry a camera with you full time!


    1. Iggy, was that one ‘declawed’? If so, it was probably held captive at one time….ok, that was bad.


  11. Serge, your right, but I have been known to expand the truth once in a while hehe
    Jeff, she had long curled up back scratchers

  12. In lieu if recent news and unusually high numbers of sightings it’s good to know what you should do if you encounter one of these animals.

  13. The map only shows a small % as most sightings probably go unreported. My Dad saw one about 10 years back in the Pontiac and we heard of 5-6 others who saw one in that regions over the next year or so but all went unreported.

    1. OK Folks, I have some important late-breaking news regarding the cougar killed last weekend in the Muskokas!

      I just received an update from Chris Davies, Manager, Wildlife Research & Development with the MNR.

      The news is as follows, in the words of Chris himself, but keep in mind it is only preliminary:

      “Hi Jeff:

      I have received some preliminary results from the post mort on the cougar from Bracebridge. The cougar is a female in very good condition. She had been de-clawed, there were no tattoos or micro-chips. Given she had been de-clawed she is clearly an escaped or released animal/pet and not a free ranging cougar.


      1. So there you go!

        It would appear the Muskoka-area cougar is NOT of the wild ‘eastern cougar’ variety, however, I am sure all the sightings mentioned here at the Outdoors Guy Blog and elsewhere are not all of escaped captive animal variety.

        As Johan, Norm and others have noted, many cougar sightings go unreported altogether. The evidence is certainly there but until a wild cougar is captured, and examined we are left with many questions than answers.

        The reports initially indicated that the Bracebridge cougar was the first one killed since 1884; however my opinion is that the search continues yet for a bona fide wild cougar in this province.

        Thanks to Chris Davies, Dr. Rick Rosatte and their associates with the MNR for keeping us in the ‘cougar loop’


  14. This may be a dirty word here but maybe there should be a “registry” of captive cougars in Ontario. This would give us a better handle on how many and where they are. Also if any escape.

    1. Rick, that is actually a terrific idea…and I’m surprised there isnt some sort of monitoring system for these.


  15. I reported this one. Bought a camp on L. Superior on Whitefish Bay about 4 yrs ago. Came from the interior of B.C. (near Kamloops) and have lived in Alta and B.C. most of my life. Had 2 camps in the wilderness of B.C. where I hunted and fished – seeing cougars on occasion so I know what they are vs Lynx etc. 2 yrs ago a cougar ripped across the front of our L. Superior camp running close to the water. Love the way these guys use that long tail to balance themselves on the run.

  16. Many think that the cougar is extinct and being a land owner in muskoka I beg to differ. Last summer I was enjoying a beer on my dec while bbq’n some stakes for my wife and I, went into the kitchen to grab more bbq sauce and returned to the bbq to see the cougar in full view not more then 10 feet off the edge of my deck. Scared the heck out of me to be honest. I thought it was just random or he was just passing through until I began noticing his fresh tracks around the house more frequently and having more frequent sightings of him with last week being the 8th sighting. I own 4 acres with 100 acres of crown land behind me and have no plans on reporting or disturbing this animal as they were here before we were and hearing of more sightings only gives me the hope they are joining the eagle I’ve also spotted many times making a come back. I believe that we should give these animals the respect and space they deserve! Nothing says gods country more then the untamed wildlife occasionally letting you snap a picture or getting the odd sighting. Notifying mnr or activists would only lead to the animals being caught or disturbed to be tested thus pushing them closer to extinction. Leave them alone and they will do the same, you shoot or hurt them then you deserve the same fate!

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