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Cougar spotted sleeping in hay loft in west Ottawa

A cougar and a horse farmer in north Kanata both got a fright last week when the farmer chanced upon the cougar sleeping in a hay loft.

Ministry of Natural Resources says cougars elusive, sightings very rare

A cougar was spotted resting in a hay loft near Carp on Wednesday, Feb. 4. The picture of the cougar above was taken at a zoo in Winnipeg. (CBC)
Gerald McEwen was getting hay for the horses when he spotted the cougar. After the cougar fled, McEwen made a lot of noise to hopefully deter the cougar from coming back. (CBC News)
A cougar and a horse farmer in north Kanata both got a fright last week when the farmer chanced upon the cougar sleeping in a barn's hay loft.

"As I walked in he got spooked. I guess he was sleeping up there. He looked at me with his face, I looked at him, and basically we both were scared. ... We were both ready to go our separate ways," said Gerald McEwen, who was helping out that Wednesday morning at the farm owned by his parents.

"It was nice to see. I've never seen a cougar before in my life ... but I really don't want to see it again, not that close, anyway. Maybe in a zoo," he said.

McEwen had opened the barn door to get hay for the horses when he spotted the cougar. Moments later, the cougar fled out the back of the barn.

McEwen said he made a lot of noise in an effort to deter the cougar from ever coming back.

The cougar had been resting in this hay loft. (CBC News)
The cougar was bigger than his dog and could weigh about 125 pounds, McEwen estimates.

The sighting came days after the National Capital Commission sent a warning to residents advising extra safety precautions to be taken for pets and livestock.

The NCC issued the warning after a horse was injured in some kind of wildlife attack on an agricultural property in the Greenbelt.

There was no evidence to suggest exactly what kind of animal attacked the horse.

Several trails were closed but have since reopened.

The Ministry of Natural Resources said there's never been an attack on a human by a cougar in Ontario. If a cougar is spotted, people should:

  • Never approach it.
  • Stay calm.
  • Back away slowly while speaking in a firm voice.
  • Give the animal an escape route.
  • Contact the ministry to report it.

Jolanta Kowalski, a ministry spokesperson, said cougar sightings are very rare in general, but that they're more commonly seen in or near wooded areas.

"It's so rare to see one and to have evidence of one that I don't think it should be something that concerns people greatly, but of course you have to be wise around any potential wildlife," Kowalski said.

"They're very elusive, wily animals, and it's very unusual to see them."

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story stated that the horse farm is located near Carp. In fact, and as this story first reported, the horse farm is located in north Kanata, according to the farmer.
    Feb 09, 2015 12:07 PM ET

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