A longtime Manitoba trapper got an unexpected surprise when he checked his traps this week and found a dead, full grown, male cougar.

Grant Armstrong was expecting to find a coyote in the trap near Boissevain, not the 66-kilogram mountain lion.

He described his reaction as "amazement, shock, disbelief I guess more than anything, having never seen any sign of them in this area before."

Knowing the cougar is a protected species, Armstrong contacted Manitoba Conservation and officers arrived soon after and took the body.

A spokesperson with Manitoba Conservation confirmed the cougar trapping and said tests are being done.

Bill Watkins, a zoologist with Manitoba Conservation, said cougars are extremely rare in Manitoba. The one trapped by Armstrong is only the fourth found in the province since 1973.

He's working to figure out if the big cats are migrating to Manitoba from North Dakota.

A necropsy, a post-mortem examination, will be done will be done in Winnipeg to record weight, measurements, and DNA, among other things.

Boissevain is located about 250 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, not far from the international border.