New Brunswick

Possible cougar sightings near Tracy have residents rattled

Several people have reported seeing and hearing what they believe is a cougar prowling in their yards over the past two weeks.

Residents say a large cat with a long tail has been in their yards and making lots of noise

Several residents near Tracy report having multiple run-ins with a large cat they believe is a cougar like the mounted one here that was shot by a New Brunswick hunter in B.C. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Several people in the Tracy area have reported seeing and hearing what they believe is a cougar prowling in their yards over the past two weeks. 

Four households have heard and seen what they describe as a large cat with long tail, and tawny coat, sitting in their yards making separate loud, disturbing yowls and screeches. 

It was kind of scary knowing I had a cougar outside my bedroom window.- Holly Whittaker, Tracy resident

"It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up," said Holly Whittaker, who says she saw a large cat, which she says was unmistakably a cougar, in her front yard at around 11:30 p.m. Monday.

"And there he was and it was kind of scary knowing I had a cougar outside my bedroom window." 

Whittaker says she was lying on her couch when she heard loud "coughing and wowing"-like noises coming from outside her bedroom window. She said her dog in the house responded "by going insane."

Holly Whittaker says she was alerted to a big cat in her front yard Monday night after she heard it making loud noises and disturbing her dogs. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
"It was beige colour, very big," said Whittaker. "He had a very long tail and he just went strutting down the road.

"I've looked online and seen pictures of them," said Whittaker. "I know it wasn't a bobcat or a lynx, he had a very long tail." 

Whittaker says she called her boyfriend who was down the street.

"And when he pulled in the yard it ran across the road into the neighbour's driveway.

Those neighbours say they've seen and heard the same large cat several times in the last couple of weeks.

Dale and Velma Aubin say they've had a big cat, which they believe is a cougar, on their property multiple times in the last few weeks. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
"It's been right in our driveway, and in between our house and the garage," said Dale Aubin, who lives across the road from Whittaker. "My daughter has also seen it when she pulled in right by our garage before it took off."

Spotting the big cat in the driveway hasn't been the only encounter the Aubin household has had. 

"My grandson said he heard a loud noise in the woods so we came out on the deck to try and hear it ," said Velma Aubin. "And we heard a big screech from it and it was so loud and so close and there wasn't enough room for both of us to get through the door at the same time." 

Third sighting

Another nearby household has reported seeing a big cat in their yard in the last few weeks. 

"My husband and I had just gone to bed," says Kathleen Russell. "All of a sudden we heard this screech and my husband jumped up to look out the window — broke my blinds in the process — and that cougar was sitting right there under our dusk-to-dawn lamp."

Kathleen Russell says she and her husband were heading to bed when a loud screeching noise from a big cat in their yard spooked them and their dog. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
"It was a big cat with a great big long tail," said Russell. "I thought at first it was a bear cub squawking for its mother but we both looked out and it was a cougar standing right there."

None of the residents managed to take pictures or video of the animal. But when asked about the possibility of the animal they reported seeing being a bobcat, lynx, or large house cat, all of them said they knew the difference and cited the large tail and tawny colouration as being the strongest indicators of the animal being a cougar.

"We've got some people telling us they'll lend us some trail cams so we can prove it's a cougar," said Whittaker.

Government response

The provincial government offers no comment on the reported sighitings.

"The Department of Energy and Resource Development does not respond to reports of suspected cougar sightings," wrote spokesperson Marc-Andre Chaisson.

"However in the interest of natural history, the zoology section of the natural sciences division of the New Brunswick Museum does maintain an on-line cougar report form that people can print off and fill out if they wish to report suspected sightings."

Cougar sightings in New Brunswick are not uncommon, but evidence backing up those claims is rare. 

Don McAlpine, the research curator of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum, has previously stated there have been two positive identifications of cougars in the province, with DNA evidence of the species found in Fundy National Park in 2004.


Shane Fowler


Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.