Kitchener-Waterloo

Sighting of possible large cat in Kitchener's Montgomery Park under investigation

Police say a woman observed a large tan-coloured animal in Kitchener on Sunday and believed it to be a cougar or mountain lion.

Most cougar sightings are misidentified house cats or coyotes, according to province

The woman said the cat was not aggressive and remained still throughout the encounter. (Waterloo Regional Police)

A woman walking her two dogs in Kitchener's Montgomery Park on Sunday says she saw a large, predatory cat, according to police. 

The woman was walking at 1:30 p.m. when she says she "observed a large tan coloured animal, approximately three feet long and believed it to be a cougar or mountain lion," police said in an email to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

The animal remained still and was not aggressive throughout the encounter, police said.

Officers went to the area to conduct a search, but were unable to locate a large animal. City of Kitchener bylaw says it received no calls about any large cat sightings over the weekend.

Officers have contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Grand River Conservation Authority to alert them of the sighting. 

The GRCA says it is aware of the report and said the sighting falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. 

Cougar sightings rare, often misidentified

The ministry says it was not contacted about the alleged sighting.

"We do encourage people who think they've seen a cougar to mark the day, time, and location and call the ministry.  Physical evidence is most helpful, for example photos or tracks," ministry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski said in an email. "There have been confirmed cougar sightings in Ontario, but they are rare."

Kowalski said cougars are "generally elusive" and avoid humans.

"The majority of alleged cougars sightings are misidentifications," Kowalski said. "A coyote and house cat are two examples of animals that have been misidentified as a cougars."

When cougars are found in Ontario, they are often escaped or released pets or animals that have come here from western parts of the country. The province's population size is unknown.

Kowalski said if someone sees a cougar, they should stay calm, remain standing and immediately back away slowly and leave the area.

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