Residents on Savage Drive took these photos of footprints after they saw that they thought was a cougar.

It’s probably not a cougar that you saw in Stittsville

(ABOVE: Neighbours on Savage Drive think this paw print may be from a cougar. Photo via Pat Goyette.)

It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely there are any cougars wandering around Stittsville, despite recent reports of exactly that. In fact, there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of a wild cougar in this province for 132 years.

We’ve been reading about a few possible cougar sightings in the area on social media. Late in May, neighbours on Savage Drive (south of Hazeldean) reported spotting what they thought was a cougar coming out of Amberway Park.  They posted these footprints.

Residents on Savage Drive took these photos of footprints after they saw that they thought was a cougar.

Residents on Savage Drive took these photos of footprints after they saw that they thought was a cougar.
Photos via Pat Goyette.

 

We forwarded the photographed footprints to Kamal Khidas, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Khidas said the photographs were too poor quality to have any certainty, but there was no clear indication the prints came from a cougar. He suggested it may have come from a wolf instead.

A wolf is just one of dozens of animals people could confuse for a cougar, says Jane Devlin, management biologist with the Kemptville office of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“I think the common animals that are confused and mistakenly identified as a cougar could be a white-tailed deer, dog, domestic cat, a bobcat, even a fisher… it could be any number of those.”

She says the ministry receives reports of cougars all the time, but there’s never solid evidence to confirm one – not since 1884, the last confirmed sighting of a wild cougar.

Devlin didn’t rule out the possibility of an escaped cougar from captivity, for example from a zoo or an exotic pet owner. If there were any around Ottawa, trail cams would likely have taped them.

Whether it’s a cougar or not, Devlin said there are important safety tips to keep in mind in case you are confronted by a wild animal. Face it directly, back away slowly, make lots of noise and try to appear larger than you actually are.

And please, no cougar jokes. We’ve heard them all.


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6 thoughts on “It’s probably not a cougar that you saw in Stittsville”

  1. Cougar(s) have also been seen in Lanark County. The sightings can never be confirmed because the cat is long gone by the time the ministry gets to the site. Dry summer weather produces no tracks although in snow the cougar does leave a very distinctive track – that being his tail makes a mark in the snow either to the right or the left of the footprints. I have seen what I believe to be a cougar in the fall, in a field but when I turned the car around to go back and get a better look he was gone. I did contact the ministry. I saw his winter tracks at the edge of my pond, and in the spring saw him floating face down in the water. I think he may have fallen through the ice. BUT, I could not find anyone to go out in the canoe with me to confirm!

    1. There has been a few sighting of a bobcat/lynx in and around the Scotch corners Rd area towards the Mississippi river. By the descriptions I’ve been getting its too large to be a house cat and too small to be a cougar. Hoping that myself or some one can get a picture soon.

      1. A neighbor of ours described a cougar crossing in front of her car on the gravel driveway on her property in the Dunrobin area, probably some 10 – 12 km. distant from the McEwen sighting a couple years ago. This was the third week of September 2016. The area is rural, with some pasture land interspersed with trees, and borders the Ottawa River. In her case, the driveway is over half a mile long, and being a person of extensive experience, makes her a most credible witness. Moreover, her description matches those of other sightings, – dark tan coat, slow slung, thick long tail, muscular body. short ears, cat-like face.

  2. There definitely have been Cougars in Ontario within the past 132 years. I don’t know why, but “wildlife authorities” like to pretend there’s not. It’s just groupthink.

    There was a cougar in Colborne about 1-2 years ago. Small town south of the 401 just past Belleville. He was skulking around town for a few days, hiding under decks. The OPP were called, and they saw it, and IIRC might have had to shoot it.

    A few years ago, a farmer called the MNR because something killed one of his horses. Whatever it was, jumped on the horses back, there are claw-marks, and then it killed the horse by biting the BACK of it’s neck.

    But MNR still holds this line about there not being cougars.

    I have a friend who captured a Bobcat on a trailcam on his property south of the 401. He called the MNR, and they said there are no Bobcats south of Hwy7. Basically accusing him of lying?

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