Cougar Sightings

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Web Extras

September 9, 2009

There have been cougar sightings in the area. Have you seen any? Tell us your stories.

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Until recently cougar sightings were considered either myths or isolated incidents of escaped pets.  We wonder:  have cougars returned?

We know that reported sightings in this area have escalated (see below for example).   Bears and fishers have also returned.

That’s why we’re interested to hear from you. Do you think cougars are back?  Are you pleased to see wildlife reclaiming their territory, or nervous about safety?  Let us know in the comment box at the bottom of the page.

Have you seen a cougar?

If you have seen a cougar, bear or fisher, please tell us your story! (Leave a reply in the comments box below.)

Must Comment

15 Comments

  1. Cougar sighting, June 4, 2009. 4th Line and 20 Sideroad, Mono.

    Okay, so check it out, there I was digging a sandbox for the toddlers – finally started after deciding on a cedar classical look, rather than the art deco poplar design I was contemplating – anyhoo, what assaults my ears but the chilling and heart-wrenching scream of an infant deer in distress. It sounded like a tortured lamb. Loud. Then it stopped. I thought to myself, ah well, circle of life. Dig dig dig.

    But I couldn’t bear it – its calling out for help or what sort of person I’d be if I didn’t answer. So off I went in the direction of the unpleasantness.

    Not fifty feet into the field I spied the beast. Tall as an adult deer, the colour of burnt grass, walking nonchalantly into the pines. There had been sightings reported around here, but I really hadn’t believed them. There was no mistaking it though, the fluidity of its motion, the awesome flank.

    I went back and grabbed my machete and a big club of maple, and stalked out to the spot. I checked the clearing past the pines, nothing. Then I saw what I could only deduce was a path made by the cat dragging something. All the grass was bent forward in a swath towards the forest.

    Blood pumping, I skirted the forest, not wanting to confront the puma, yet too exhilarated to stop my investigation. I followed a path I’d made into the woods, just took a couple of steps in and there was the object of the earlier alarm. The bloody little fawn, dismembered, dropped.

    Quickly I indexed what I have researched about cougars and remember the fact that they will defend a fresh kill with deadly force. I retreated to a nearby hilltop and watched for any renewed action, but nothing more occurred. So I went back to get a camera. When I returned the kill was gone.

    Philip Pearce

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    Philip Pearce on June 4, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Reply

  2. I read with interest your “Have you seen a cougar” piece. (Volume 16 #3). There is a significant body of science surrounding the current and historical levels of much of Ontario’s wildlife populations and distribution.

    Unfortunately there has been a rush to conclude that the Eastern Cougar has returned to Southern Ontario without one single piece of factual evidence in not less than 100 years to prove it so,regardless of the countless reported sightings.

    I would like to add that the experts in field identification of wildlife from those at the MNR along with hundreds of thousands of skilled hunters and naturalists who spend hundreds of thousands of hours in the field every year have yet to submit a single piece of evidence or sighting record (everyone now carries a digital camera it seems).

    Mr Greg Cull of the MNR would be happy to respond to questions in this regard along with a review of the provinces reintroduction program of the Fisher (porcupine control) and the apparent Black Bear territorial expansion. The bear movements south into Dufferin are not new, but have been witnessed every decade or so for many years. I had the pleasure of tracking one in the 70s in this area and have personal knowledge of others in each decade since.

    It is a wonderfully romantic idea that we might have these awesome cats among us once again, but it is most doubtful!!!!.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Yours truly,
    Rob Best
    President Upper Credit Field Naturalists
    [sent by email]

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    admin on September 22, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Reply

  3. I read your notice regarding sightings of big cats in the Caledon region. We live in the Cedar Mills area just east of Hwy 50 north of Old Church Road. About the middle of August this summer, I was looking for my black lab around our country property.
    I thought I’d found her lying, enjoying the afternoon sunshine about 100 yards away
    from the house so I called her several times noticing that her eyes looked gold in the
    sunlight not their usual black. Moments later my dog came wagging up the path
    behind me and we both were able to stare as a big black cat (about the same
    size as my 70 lb. black lab) stood and stretched and easily leaped over the
    four foot fence that separates my lawn from a field of tall grass. The tail was quite
    long and curled a bit on the end. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a cat.

    My husband called us urgently as he was leaving the house one morning four or
    five years ago to look at a big black cat that he saw in the exact same place
    however it ran into the forest before the rest of us saw the animal. I couldn’t say if
    it was the same cat but his description is identical.

    Finally, I was driving home around 9:00 p.m. down Mt. Hope Road about two years
    later and slowed for a large cat (I don’t know the colour) that I saw crossing the
    road in my headlights. It was pulling a smaller animal across the road and ran
    into the brush as I rolled closer to get a better look.

    My stories are usually met with scepticism or the suggestion that these are
    really just coyotes or dogs but I know that I have see this kind of cat at least
    twice myself and my husband was very sure of his sighting too. Thanks for asking – I hope that helps.

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    Susan Armstrong on September 23, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Reply

    • I live on castlederg sideroad close to mount hope. The sighting I had took place about two years ago. At that time my home had not been built yet. My daughter and I were scouting the property looking for an ideal spot to build the home.It was getting a bit dark but we could still see quite well. As we were about to drive down the hill towards the road,I looked to my left down in the ravine (as I usually do,looking for turkeys and such)I saw a black animal walking towards the small creek. I thought it was a neighbours dog, but when it turned to go back the way it came it looked to me like a large cat. My daughter said “what is it dad?”, I said “oh nothing”.(I didn’t want to scare her)
      I told my wife about it, we later dismissed it as being a dog until I read your story.
      Thank’s for publishing this story, I’m pretty sure now that I did see a large cat just as I thought.

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      Ivano Diminutto on November 17, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Reply

    • Dec 29th 2012
      Just saw a large jet black cat approximately 65 pounds cross old church road right at highway 50 and run in deep snow up a steep embankment. Had 2 kids in the car and we all saw a very sleek powerful cat, long thick tail and cat like gait. Ran very forcefully up hill not leaping thru snow but powering thru it. Obviously a cat and way too big for a house cat. Beautiful gait . We are about 200 feet away initially but drove towards it as we went up the hill and it ran up the steep embankment on the south east corner of 50 and Old Church.

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      Andrew wood from Highway 50 and old church road on December 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Reply

  4. Hey all!
    It’s a wonderful thing that nature has found it’s way back home!
    In the last year I have seen 2 Fishers, one in a friends barn in Amaranth and one crossing the road in Hillsburgh.
    A friend and I believed that we caught a glimpse of a cougar in our travels along Hwy 89 near Airport Rd. It was standing amongst some tall grass in a grove of trees next to a field full of sheep. As we slowed down on the shoulder, the creature retreated quickly into the bush.
    I personally have noticed alot more wildlife, other than squirrels and birds, popping up in our communities. From bobcats along the 400 to snowy owls perched on light standards, we can rest assured that nature will find a way to work with us, it’s really a question if we can do the same for nature.

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    Jay Wilson on September 28, 2009 at 11:18 am | Reply

  5. We had a bear sighting on our property at [location deleted by request] a month ago. The bear was lying on our driveway eating apples that had dropped from the tree. I do have a photo if you could email me the address to send it to. (Ed. note: the photo is below.) A week later, a neighbor called to say he saw the bear near our home and we also found bear feces on our front walkway. A little too close for comfort when we have 3 small children.
    Bear in Mulmur near Airport Road and 20th Sideroad

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    Diane [last name removed by request] on September 29, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Reply

  6. It was about 4 years ago now. Thanksgiving weekend. My husband and I had been invited over to Bill Symons house for the family thanksgiving dinner.

    He lives just south of us on the townline road at the top of the hill on the north end of Hockley. His property is glorious with beautiful views and vistas.

    We were standing alone on his balcony, enjoying the valley. It was one of those wonderful sunny, warm, thanksgiving sundays.

    Less than a 100′ from where we were standing I saw a kitty. He looked just like our Jack kitty – orange in colour.

    I said, hey, look it’s a Jack cat……

    My husband says, that’s no Jack cat that’s a cougar.

    This thing was HUGE! What was I thinking.

    He sauntered through Bill’s back yard, along the top of the hill, then headed down to the valley. We were both in such shock, we could barely blurt out…..Bill….Bill…..come quick.

    By the time he showed up of course the mythical cougar had disappeared. Bill has lived there over 30 years and never saw the cougar. We were there less than 30 minutes!

    It was very funny on many accounts as Mark Nelson, had just regaled a story about the myth of the Hockley Cougar. We of course were thinking it was the rantings of an old man, maybe one too many pops!

    Now Mark comes to us and says, tell me the story of the cougar again?

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    Christine Thomas on November 3, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Reply

  7. I live in Erin Ontario and I have a friend who has seen 2 cougars in the past two weeks,one on the fourth line of Erin walking slowly acroos an open field and then one on the Trans Canada trail behing his property. On the second occasion the the cougar literally jumped out in front of him on the trail, growled and hissed and then disappeared into the bush.
    I, myslef was walking my dogs in Erin fairgrounds last year and came across skat that to me was obviously from a huge cat. There was a pile and this was surrounded by deep claw marks. The skat has been partially covered.

    I think there are cougars in our area and I have noticed small,lowflying planes in the area obviously carrying tracking devices for something.

    Makes one wonder doesnt it??

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    marina cox on November 11, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Reply

  8. oh yes and before I forget, I have another friend who rides her bike on the trans canada trail every day and she saw a cougar on the trail right in front of her!

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    marina cox on November 11, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Reply

  9. Your on-line topics are the conversation of the week in our house. A friend at 8th Line Amaranth & 20th Sideroad came outside during the day to see a cougar stalking her several horses. It was just on the other side of the paddock fence. Perhaps the fact that it is electric fence is what saved the day. I wonder how her 2 dogs and several cats will fare over the coming days. The stallion accross the road from her had rake marks over his shoulders and flanks just over a year ago. A cougar was highly suspected but not seen. Farmers have a fair amount of loss due to the current coyote population but that field of sheep, that Mr. Wilson saw the cougar beside, will soon have damage to it’s residents. Check with the Ministry of Natural Resources about the 2 breeding pairs of cougars which were released into Dufferin county a couple of years ago. It appears they and perhaps their offspring are still around. This was to control the deer population. (NB: they may deny this but it is true). Maybe just an increase in the hunter’s tags would have been sufficient enough.
    A bit of a danger to persons and livestock alike.

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    Diane Griffith on November 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Reply

  10. [from Charles Hooker, by email]

    The reports of cougar sightings (“We asked and you told us,” Winter 2009) reminded me of the restrictions on endangered species in Ontario.

    The federal Species at Risk Act (SARA, 2004) addressed federal lands and authorized provinces and territories to pass similar legislation. The Ontario Endangered Species Act (ESA, 2008) listed 184 species that are now protected by law in Ontario – vegetation, fish, molluscs, animals, etc.

    Strangely, while the SARA does not list the cougar, the ESA does; so the cougar may be destroyed to protect you and your livestock in Canada, but not in Ontario.

    Has Ontario seceded?

    Charles Hooker

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    site admin on November 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Reply

  11. I live in a subdivision at Hockley rd and hwy 10. Yesterday I looked out my back window towards our treeline when I saw a huge cat with a long tail walk past. I grabbed my phone to take a picture and ran out in bare feet, but by the time I got to the spot I saw it, it was gone. I then came to my senses and thought how silly I was. Later I heared there have been similar sightings in the area.

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    Rebecca Boden on November 23, 2009 at 8:40 am | Reply

  12. An update to our Web Extra on cougar sightings: a definitive four-year study by MNR proves the cougar prowls in Ontario.

    From The Toronto Star (June 21, 2010)

    “A definitive four-year study by the Ministry of Natural Resources has finally put a rest to all doubt that the big but reclusive cats prowl the province’s wilderness.

    “Cougars have been here all along . . . we are collecting additional information about them now,” said Rick Rosatte, a senior research scientist in Peterborough. More than 30 pieces of evidence have been collected, including photos of tracks, DNA and scat samples that verify the big cat’s presence.

    Of the roughly 2,000 reported sightings in the province since 2002, very few have been confirmed by track marks or DNA. Ontario’s original population was thought to have been hunted out of existence in the late 1800s. The last cougar shot here was found in 1884 near Creemore, south of Collingwood.

    Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/aGKHXb

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    Online Editor on June 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Reply

  13. This early evening, while company was at our house, my husband stopped something black across the farmer’s field across the road from our house. At first, I dismissed it, and said it was just the neighbour’s black cat, as indeed it did have a cat shape/form … but as we studied the animal walking across the field – walking very much like a large cat – we realized there was no way that it was a normal housecat …. but yet it still walked like a cat, had a long tail like a cat and was about as big as a dog or bigger? … it walked up to the neighbour’s barn and then sat in the snow for a while before shooting off to chase another animal through the bush. It ran very fast and was definitely cat-like in it’s manner and running… everyone clambered to the living room to watch this animal across the road and we all started trying to guess what it was … we were stumped as to what kind of animal it would have been as we weren’t able to get very close to it. After searching the internet and books for what types of black cat like animals would be in our area, I think we all agree it was a black, large cat (not a fisher cat) so whether it was a cougar or not … we will never know, unless we spot it again. I just can’t imagine what else it would have been. Amazing! We were totally in awe watching this animal!

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    Gillian from Rosemont on March 23, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Reply

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