Last summer you may recall my interview with Shawn Heggert; a man who lives in a small town southeast of Ottawa. Shawn is an avid outdoorsman – hunter and fisherman – like many of us are, and is always watching the fields and forests near his house for signs of wildlife.
While driving his vehicle near Mountain last summer, something peculiar caught his attention.
A large brown ‘cat’ with a long tail was running along the roadside in front of him. It was a cougar and Shawn knows wildlife well enough to realize what one looks like.
“I wasn’t hard to tell this guy was a cougar, I mean, he was only 30 yards away and it was broad daylight!” said Heggert.
Upon returning home, Shawn got on the Internet and began searching Ontario Cougars, which led him to one my articles in the Ottawa SUN from Summer, 2012, with the story of the cougar shot by Police in the Muskoka’s.
Since I interviewed Shawn about his cougar sighting last summer, copious other sightings have flowed, like sap in springtime, to my email Inbox . I have received, on average, 1 cougar sighting per month over the past two years and from all over the place.
There must be something to it is all I have to say! Could it be that all these sightings are from ‘pets’ or ‘formerly captive’ cougars?
Sure, the one killed by police two summers ago in the Muskoka’s had evidently been a captive animal (it had been declawed) but there are far too many sightings, across the province each year to ALL be escaped pets.
It seems no one wants to believe that a remnant population of the (now believe to be) extinct Eastern Cougar might exist in Eastern Canada, yet the sightings continue to grow in numbers. Or perhaps the other theory of an west-east expansion is more plausible? (This is the one I subscribe to)
At any rate, the number of cougar sightings continues to grow and expand into areas of the province beyond the current central & eastern Ontario cougar hotspots.
I mean, I’ve heard of cougars (4-legged) being spotted within ear-shot of downtown Toronto!!
It will be interesting to see what transpires with this one the MNR are actively trying to live trap in Peterborough.(Story by Pete Fisher of the Peterborough Examiner) To my knowledge, this is one of the first efforts the Ministry has made to live trap a cougar. (Not even sure that live trapping was attempted in case of Bracebridge cougar killed by police)
Many of the folks who’ve contacted me since 2012 stated that they got in-touch with their MNR office and were told, flat out, that cougars DO NOT exist in the province.
This live-trapping effort in Peterborough suggests that our MNR now admits, in this case anyway, that we may have some large cats roaming the province of Ontario after all.
Seen a cougar? Drop me a line anytime! I don’t own a culvert trap, but I’m willing to listen intently with an open mind!
Note: Since I know Pete Fisher of the Peterborough Examiner, I contacted him yesterday about this story; which falls close to his backyard. He is providing me with updates…