Cougars – The Return

Photo: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Mountain lion (Cougar)

Scientific name: Puma concolor

It was November 11, 2017 and a gentle snow had been falling for most of the afternoon. We were heading to town on Siberia Road when a large cat suddenly came out of the ditch. It crossed the road, unconcerned, as if it was on a mission. The cat’s powerful body advanced with a smooth motion, its tail held straight back. We slowed the car, looked at each other and declared, “Cougar!” We continued driving until we found a spot to turn around and proceeded back to the crossing site. Driving slowly, we found the tracks. I cautiously exited the car to take pictures with my phone. Three hours later returning from town we saw more cougar tracks coming back across the road. This area is a known deer crossing location and possibly the cat was hunting. What a unique experience. The cougars are back!!

Over the past few years there have been stories circulating in the community about several incidents. First, a cougar had been spotted at Tea Lake. Next, cougar tracks were spotted and people heard the calling of what they thought was a cougar. Another incident took place at the junction of Siberia and Yakabuski Roads and there was another across Greenan Lake. These incidents were not confirmed and no evidence was produced. Such are cougar sightings. They happen very quickly and leave you with a unique experience.

Cougar Facts

The Cougar, Puma or Mountain Lion is considered an Endangered Species in Ontario. These cats can reach up to 2 metres in length and weight up to 65 kg. They can travel upwards to 50 km in a day in their travels.

Historically they ranged throughout North, Central and South America. Their extinction came about mainly due to human persecution. The European settlers were afraid of the predators and basically shot as many as they could. This not only included cougars but any predator they competed with for food or safety. The original cougar population was believed to have been hunted out of existence in the late 1800s. The last cougar shot in Ontario was south of Collingwood in 1884.

In 2006 Mr. Rick Rosatte led a cougar research network in Ontario. A total of 497 pieces of evidence confirmed that cougars were present in Ontario during the period 1991 and 2010. See website listed below for additional information.

In 2010 Mr. Stuart Kenn, President of the Ontario Puma Foundation, estimated there were about 550 cougars in the province, as reported in the Owen Sound Sun Times in June of that year.  There is a cougar corridor bordered by Ottawa, Peterborough and Owen Sound to the south, and North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie to the north.

If You Meet a Cougar

Cougars are shy and normally avoid humans. If you encounter a cougar remain calm, stand up tall, raise your arms above your head. Do not crouch down or hide. Then slowly back away, immediately leave the area. If the animal is aggressive throw objects at it – never run. If you believe a cougar is threatening your safety or that of others, call 911 or your local police. If you see a cougar in a tree, leave it alone. Again, please call your local police or 911. If you believe you have seen a cougar but it is not a threat to public safety, please report it to your local Ministry of Natural Resources office.

For more information and assistance about cougars or lynx sightings call your local Ministry of Natural Resources Information Center    1-800-667-1940

Below are links to more information, including reports of the research that has been done on our cougars:

8 Comments

  1. Marc-Antoine Charbonneau

    Spotted one chasing a deer in the night near Arnprior on 417 on DEC 2019, it was a hell of a big cat !!! No mistake on that one, i stopped and took pictures of the paws print, plus we can even see the trace of His puffy long tail in the snow between the paws…

    About a week later, i was stun to Spotted the same footprint type, but it was 60km away, near the Innes road, in Ottawa. Again i took pictures…

  2. Connie Eagles

    I live in a small town south of owen sound. I’m so excited to tell the world that in July 2017 the closest things to my heart were stalked for six months by a cougar and her cub until they mauled slaughtered and ate my 15 and 17yr old cats!! I’ve been Traumatized for life!! If the MNR would admit and advise the public that these protected ferocious beasts are in our backyards rather than denying it and making the victim feel like they should’ve been gutted with my cats by the cougar then Ontarians would at least have a chance to protect our beloved pets. There have been hundreds of sightings in our area..in a couple years!! Did anyone hear of what happened to the old gentleman that disappeared in Eugenia the same year there were 6 cougar sightings in Eugenia. The truth would help protect the human species as well as the beloved protected endangered ferocious beast THE COUGAR

  3. Any chance of you posting your photos of the paw prints, Gil? Several years ago we saw what was described as evidence of cougar feeding at the carcass of a deer…. and then soon after there was a sighting at the nearby Killaloe Wolf golf club…. Life is alive and wild!

  4. Dennis Corrigan

    In my 30 years of traveling to and from work at Chalk River, I have twice seen an Eastern Cougar. Once near the Hwy 17 and Black Bay Road intersection near Petawawa and once near Meilleur’s Bay just west of Deep River. There was no mistaking it for anything else. About the size of a german shepherd dog with pointed ears and a long rope-like tail, they are very muscular, quick and elusive.

    • Michael Walsworth

      I think I saw the same Cougar (or in the same family) as the one you mentioned was off HWY 17 near Petawawa. You know the old Sherman Tank they have parked beside the highway (West side) where the military base is split in two?

      Back in 2005-2006 I was in the impact area of the base which borders Algonquin Park. There’s a set of big hydro towers that cut through the park near that border. I went to take a poop in the woods and had a deer run right in front of me followed by a LARGE cat. (which I later discovered was an Eastern Cougar).. One of the Master Corporals I was working with was also a park ranger and was very interested in my sighting. I showed him the tracks and he was down on his knees in awe. The damn cat had jumped UP a steep incline after the deer with at least 6-7 feet in between paw impressions. That’s some powerful uphill jumping!

  5. Anne Bonnah

    I used to live in North Bay; there, a neighbour had a cougar as a pet ( on leash when ‘walking’ it). That was the first time I saw a cougar close up. Now, being a permanent resident of Barry’s Bay, and travelling along Siberia Road almost daily, I’ll be sure to report any local sightings of a cougar. Thanks for the article, Gil, especially tips on what to do and not to do if one encounters a cougar, as well as additional sources to visit for more information.

    I also extend my congratulations and best wishes to the publishers and editors of “The Madawaska Valley Current”.

  6. Frances Mawson

    Nice article, Gil. I hope to see one sometime – maybe not too close up! I’ve seen big cat prints in the bush behind me so am keeping my eyes open. Thanks for the info.

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