Big cat behind Quebec horse attack could be rare cougar

Wildlife officials are hoping a bait trap will help confirm if an elusive eastern cougar is behind a horse attack in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

WARNING: Graphic photos below

Officials are looking for the big cat that attacked this horse, leaving gashes in the side of its head, in July. (Radio-Canada)

Wildlife officials are hoping bait will help confirm if an elusive eastern cougar is behind a horse attack in the Eastern Townships.

This 2006 photo provided by the State Museum of Pennsylvania shows the taxidermy of the Eastern Cougar, said to have been the last cougar killed in Pennsylvania, last century. The large cat is considered extinct. (AP Photo/State Museum of Pennsylvania)
They've been searching for the cat since a young woman in South Stukely witnessed her horse being attacked by an animal she described as a cougar last month.

Officials haven't determined what type of animal was behind the attack, but there is speculation it could be the rare eastern cougar.

If you spot a cougar:

  • Back up slowly.
  • Take any young children into your arms.
  • Try to look larger than you are by lifting your arms or grouping together with other people.
  • Don't run away, play dead or turn your back on the animal.

Source: National Capital Commission

The animal once prowled Ontario and Quebec, but for decades has been thought to be extinct.

Biologists have now rubbed scent bait on a pole near the attack site to try to confirm the species.

Isabelle Thibeau, a biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, said the possibility of finding an eastern cougar is exciting.

"They are not very abundant and we never know for sure. We have good sighting reports but a lot of time we lack proof," she said.

Wildlife officials confirm another horse was attacked by a big cat in the town of Asbestos last week.

Prints that resembled cougar paws were also found in the area.

Dolly sustained several surface wounds. ((Photo submitted by Kathryn Picken))
Dolly's wounds are expected to heal. ((Photo submitted by Kathryn Picken))