Ontario residents & nature folks

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Dabbles's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-20

Hi all!  I'm hoping our Ontario residents or knowing nature lovers here in the lower 48 might be able to help us.

Don was starting the drive home from Kapuskasing ON on Friday evening.  He was on hwy 631 between hwy 11 & hwy 17 when a large wildcat crossed the road in front of him.  It was about 8:30-9:00 pm (about an hour before dark).

He said it was about the height of Brinks, long tail, guessing 120-150 pounds, huge paws, golden colored fur.  Definitely had "catitude", strolling along expecting Don to stop for him/her...  looked over at the Jeep like "What?  This is my road!" and kept going.

Our question is what kind of big cats like that are indigenous to that part of Canada?  I had thought that cougars/pumas were extinct east of the Rockies?

Jensen8278's picture
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Sounds like a cougar. The tail and size is what makes me think that. If the cat was all one color and had no markings, then it was likely a cougar. They are making a comeback since they're now protected. It's possible.

sweetpea's picture
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Most likely a cougar.  How close did he get?  Did he report his sighting?  If not, he should call it in to the Ministry of Natural Resources.  There is a lot of debate with the MNR about whether or not cougars reside in ontario.  According to them, they get lots of reported sightings each year but are rarely able to confirm them with any hard evidence (tracks, scat, or fur).  I think they have around 30 pieces of evidence in total, which is definitely not a lot considering the size of the province.  Most sightings are around dusk, and are attributed to either coyotes, wolves, deer or bears...although with a "catlike" swagger it would be hard to confuse it for another animal.  Coyote and wolf tracks are surprisingly close in size and appearance to cougar tracks.  The biggest difference is that the cougars retract their claws when walking so their prints just show the pads of their feet, wherease canines can't retract theirs. 

I read an article last year about the likelihood that there is a resident female in the township where I live.  There had been several confirmed sightings at the time.  There is also speculation about the MNR hiding their findings about the presence of cougars...why they would, I don't know.  In any case, I try to keep up on the current findings because I spend so much time in the woods, and hunt alone during deer season. 

Sir-Phin's picture
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Definitely sounds like a cougar.  They can be making a comeback in our region, with protection and our own population expanding, they are being forced out of their typical areas of habitat.

Where was he heading on 11/17?  I am along that highway myself.

Dabbles's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-20

He got home late this morning...  I'll try to get him to pinpoint the general area on a map but those don't really show landmarks.  I also don't know if MNR would even try to look for tracks, etc since he wouldn't be able to give an exact location.

How in the world could someone confuse a cat with a wolf, bear or deer?????   Well, ok - maybe a deer if it was moving fast & "bounding" over underbrush or something.  But this guy/girl was out for a stroll before dusk.  (Don just said "lollygagging is more the word..." & was definitely a cat from the head shape & facial features.)

He says he was about 200 ft from it when it emerged from the woods and about 100 ft when it disappeared into the woods on the other side of the road.  (He was braking - said it didn't look like it was going to stop & let him go past & he didn't want to hit it)

How far north do you hunt?  This was quite a bit north of Lake Superior & Sault Ste. Marie.

Dabbles's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-20

Sir_Phin, he was on Hwy 631 headed south between 11 & 17.  He was headed home (Kennesaw GA) after diagnosing a problem pump in Kapuskasing. 

Route was west on hwy 11 to south on 631 to south on 17 to Sault Ste. Marie & the border.

 

Altho' he may have passed by you when he was driving from Montreal to North Bay...

sweetpea's picture
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Wow, he really goes all over the place doesn't he?  I don't hunt anywhere near that far north - Mount Forest and Shelburne, which are about 2 hours north of Toronto. 

Sir-Phin's picture
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I'm actually the other direction from where he was travelling. 

I'm on the Northwestern tip of Lake Superior in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie is about 8 hours from me, basically at the next possible border crossing as you head west in Ontario.

Dabbles's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-20

Ok SP, he drove through Thunder Bay about 6 wks ago, delivering a pump to...  can't think of the company, but it was east of Thunder Bay about 3 hrs.  He'd driven that one from the factory in BC.

glengate's picture
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Joined: 2009-07-22

As the others said, there have been reported cougar sightings in my area, too, although there never seems to be any hard evidence to back them up.  I'm in southwestern Ontario.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to hear of them up north. 

Dabbles's picture
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Thank you all for the info.  As soon as Don can locate his approximate position on a map I'll ask him to contact MNR. 

That area sounds to be quite isolated.  A total of 3 vehicles passed him going the other way the entire time he was driving on hwy 631.  Not the "perfect" place for wildcats, but better than a more populated area.

He swears he's going to keep his camera on the seat next to him from now on...