Something strange is going on, and the phenomenon is not confined to the Headwaters.

April 3, 2014 | | Notes from the Wild

In 2010 In The Hills published my article “Has the Cat Come Back?” a story about the possible return of cougars to southern Ontario. I spoke to several people when researching the story who were certain that cougars were again among us – people who spoke convincingly of seeing cougars cross roads or traverse fields in Headwaters country.

A cougar pacing at the zoo.

A cougar pacing at the zoo.

I was struck though by the very real possibility that all these “cougar” sightings were cases of mistaken identity. Consider that no irrefutable evidence of cougars exists for this part of southern Ontario – no road killed cougars, no cougar scat (droppings), no tracks and no unambiguous photos in this era of ever-present cameras.

So how to explain cougar sightings reported by rational, intelligent people? Something strange is going on, and the phenomenon is not confined to the Headwaters. One would be hard pressed to find a rural area in this province that hasn’t had its share of cougar sightings.

The phenomenon extends to other countries as well. In Great Britain, for example, there are about 2,000 big cat sightings reported every year but, as here, there is no solid evidence to substantiate those claims.

Some folks who embrace the paranormal propose that the British cats exist only fleetingly in our world and then slip back into another dimension.

George Monbiot in his book Feral offers a more plausible explanation. He suggests that we imagine big cats because we need them. In our tame, predictable world of decreasing biodiversity, big cats stir memories of an exciting, albeit at times dangerous, natural world that our subconscious minds yearn for.

Perhaps this explanation has merit, but the phenomenon of big cats roaming our hills, or perhaps only our imaginations, will surely continue to intrigue us.

cougar four cougarfive cougarpacing cougarpacingtwo cougarsix cougarthree cougartwo
A cougar pacing at the zoo.

More Info

You can read up on other cougar sightings and add you own comments on our cougar sightings page!

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

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  1. My 15 and 17yr old cats(my babies) were mauled slaughtered killed and eaten by a cougar and her cub in the middle of my small town Holland Centre Ontario. The MNR said a cougar doesn’t stay in the same place well they need to do their research or go for training. My home beside a daycare was stalked by the cougar and her cub for 6 months until she finally killed one the middle of July 2017 and my other baby the end of July 2017. I have the cougar prints of both her and her cub which was basically confirmed by a cougar hunter in BC but unconfirmed by the MNR. The MNR will not do anything to confirm it’s a cougar…that’s why there are NO MNR confirmed cougar sightings. They wouldn’t pick my cats paws up to confirm cougar saliva on them. The kill sight was that of a cougar not a coyote but the MNR has no interest They tested scat they made me go hunt for as canine not feline and when I found the scat on the skidoo trail outside my bedroom window with my cats fur in it the MNR refused to test it. There were 11 people in my town seen the cougar that I spoke to. The cougar was seen at 2am from someone sitting on my front step. Two weeks later I seen cougar prints twice as big as the ones I found 10 km away from a huge cougar that was seen on the East Back Line closer to Markdale. I believe there’s thousands of cougars in Ontario. I understand we have to live with them but when you’ve been traumatized and experienced what I have you’ll think differently I’m sure. Please keep your children and pets safe! I saw the cougar eventually. They are an extremely stealthy animal and almost impossible to see.

    I’ve heard so many stories since then I just wish I had’ve known these dangerous animals lived in our back yards in town to boot! The cougar might as well have gutted me.
    Devastated traumatized horrified and disgusted

    Connie Eagles from Holland Centre on Apr 7, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Reply

  2. The cougars are such beautiful cats. It is too bad people and cougars don’t get along. Love the article Don.

    Ingrid Mitchell on Apr 30, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Reply

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