Cougar killed in wolf trap in Duck Mountains, province confirms
Established cougar population returning to Manitoba 100 years after being driven out of province
Bill Watkins, a biologist with Manitoba Conservation, said the wild cat was the victim of "bycatch," where a non-target species is unintentionally trapped. It was retrieved from the trap sometime between Dec. 28 and Dec. 31.
"There's no way that a trapper could control the animals that wander into the trap," he said. "It was set for wolves, so everything is completely legitimate. When he realized that he caught a cougar he contacted the department and one of our conservation officers responded."
Up until about six years ago, the likelihood of seeing a cougar in Manitoba was rare, Watkins said. Now there are a handful of sightings annually.
Up until the 1880s, cougars were found throughout southern Manitoba, but they eventually disappeared. Aside from a few reports of the odd nomadic cat creeping into the province, a stable population was never re-established in Manitoba.
But Watkins believes the species is regenerating and returning to their former habitat in Manitoba. There could be as many as 50 in the province presently, he said.