Thunder Bay big cat sightings continue

A man who photographed the big cat roaming the streets of Thunder Bay says it's a lynx, despite several reports of a cougar sighting.

Is it a cougar or is it a lynx?

This picture of a wild animal found roaming Lakehead University's residential campus was posted on Facebook Tuesday. (David St. Amand)

A man who photographed the big cat roaming the streets of Thunder Bay says it's a lynx, despite several reports of a cougar sighting.

Dave St. Amand spotted the feline near the parking lot at Lakehead University on Sunday.

"It had a tail about eight inches long and three inches thick, with the tufts on the ears," he told CBC News.

"This one I saw was a lynx. I can see how someone could mistake [it for a cougar], except for the tail, because it was a very large lynx."

 St. Amand added he thinks it's possible — but highly unlikely — that both a lynx and a cougar are in Thunder Bay.

Nevertheless, Thunder Bay Police are continuing to search for a cougar, as well as an injured bear, in the city.

Spotted at hospital

Police spokesperson Chris Adams told CBC News officers have been patrolling areas around Lakehead University and the neighbouring golf club, and the Ministry of Natural Resources has been using an ATV to get into forested areas.

The most recent sightings of the bear with the injured leg were between the university and the college, but the first reports started at about 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Police were called to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre after hospital staff reported seeing a cougar — and then the bear shortly afterwards — in an east-side parking lot.

Police said the descriptions they've received so far consistently detail the animal has a thick, long tail — something that cougars have and lynx do not.

Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources said there is a great deal of interest within his ministry about the recent cougar sighting in Thunder Bay.

Urban sightings rare

Michael Gravelle said the animals are considered endangered in the province and a cougar sighting in an urban area is very rare. He added the MNR is actively involved in the search for the suspected cougar.

"It is our wildlife specialists and they are doing the best they can to help the police," he said.

"Clearly the potential sighting of a cougar is of great interest to people and it is one that is a public safety issue, potentially, and that's why the police are directly involved in seeking our assistance."

Gravelle said there hasn't been any officially confirmed sighting of a wild cougar in Ontario since 1884. A cougar shot near Bracebridge earlier this year was found to be declawed, he noted.

However, Gravelle said the MNR does believe cougar are present in the province.