CBC Thunder Bay audience sounds off over alleged cougar call

An item played on CBC New radio in Thunder Bay on Thursday has generated a lot of interest from listeners and online followers.

A man from Stanley said a mysterious sound near his home was a cougar, but many disagree

James Boraski of Dog Lake road video taped a fox making a similar sound during a stand off with a lynx. (James Boraski/YouTube)

An item played on CBC New radio in Thunder Bay on Thursday has generated a lot of interest from listeners and online followers.

During Superior Morning’s weekly outdoor column, a sound clip was played that a man from Stanley believes was a cougar.

A large number of listeners had another theory, however.

James Boraski of Dog Lake road video-taped a fox making a similar sound during a stand-off with a lynx last summer.

"It was the middle of July and we had the window down and I looked to my left and here is this fox in the middle of the road — screaming, about 20 or 30 yards away from this lynx."

Boraski said he believes it is the defensive sound made by foxes.

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More listeners have their say

  • "I'm Jennifer calling from Gorham. My husband just heard your article about the cougar sounds. We went through the same thing about two years ago. It's not a cougar. The cougar only does it once. If you keep googling '"vixen fox" for the female fox, it repeats the sound every three-and-a-half to four seconds."
  • "It's Dan Irwin, up in Pearson. I just heard that animal screeching on your show this morning, and I'm pretty sure that's just a fox. I hear them all the time. But I have seen a mountain lion. It's several years ago, and it wasn't quite around here. But I'm pretty that was just a fox, that screeching noise. I hear them quite often at this time of year. I don't know why they do it."
  • "I'm almost certain that's the bark of a red fox. I've seen them do that. I think a cougar's sound would be deeper, and perhaps louder. Anyway, I've seen them bark like that and it sends chills up your spine."
  • "My name is Cindy.  That sound [Gord Ellis] played this morning, the man who thought he heard a cougar and recorded it, I heard a very similar sound a few years ago on my property in South Gillies. I was sleeping overnight on the property and heard that screaming sound, and the sound I heard was somewhere in between the sound that the man played, and the sound that Gord Ellis played. It was definitely a big cat. I thought it was somebody screaming outside in the middle of the night, which didn't make sense because of the isolation of the property. In the morning I found the tracks  of a large cat so that was no deer."

Online feedback:

  • From Jeanette LightwoodHere is a link to an excellent YouTube recording of "fox calls." We hear these calls on many a summer evening at our camp on the shores of Lake Superior. What I heard this morning on your news report sounds just like the calls of our family of foxes.
  • From Donald Kamula: I believe what the gentleman recorded was the hunting/locating call of a red fox. I live on Mud Lake road and this is a common sound on August nights. I believe that they use this while hunting as a location call for the family unit while teaching the young to hunt. I may be wrong but after years of living with this sound and never seeing a cougar,cougar prints, trail camera pictures or scat  I think it is a much more likely scenario. One other sound that I have heard an is very unnerving in the bush is the sound of lynx mating. This occurs in February or March . I was lucky enough to verify this by a sighting and immediate vocalization a number of years ago. If you have ever heard domestic cats,at night, outside your window  multiply that noise by ten and you have an idea of the sound. If I hadn't viewed the cats first I would have thought a Windigo was after me.
  • From Scott Duffield: I heard the story about the fellow who thought that he heard and recorded the sound of a cougar.  Well it was a fox, not a cougar.  I live in the country and hear the fox scream like this every spring and summer.  From what I understand, the sound is usually from a female fox or vixen.  It is a very eerie sound if you have never heard it before.
  • From Jim Boyd: I awoke to the radio this morning and listened intently to what was going on the world. Then an audio came on, I listened and thought to myself what is up with the red fox warning cry?  Then my faith in our local broadcast crew came crashing down. Cougar?   I live in the south gillies area and have heard this sound on several occasions.  It is quite eerie the first time you hear it.   The last time I heard it was shortly after my dog went streaking by my open garage door late one evening in hot pursuit of one bushy tailed vixen. Once the dust settled and my dog returned, being out foxed, the same cry came from the vicinity from were all the ruckus ended.  Check with "the internet" a reliable source of information if you have already formed an opinion. Sorry for venting but my faith in our local broadcast crew was a little tarnished after this one.


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