New Brunswick

Possible cougar captured on video in Grand Falls

A Grand Falls woman claims she has captured a cougar on-camera as it slinks through a field across from her home.

Grand Falls woman says she was startled to see a cougar in a field across from her northwestern N.B. home

A Grand Falls woman claims she has captured a cougar on camera as it walked through a field across from her home in northwestern New Brunswick. 0:43

A Grand Falls woman claims she has captured a cougar on camera as it walked through a field across from her home in northwestern New Brunswick. 

The 14-second video shows a long, dark, animal walking in tall grass before stopping to look around. For a brief moment a long tail appears to be visible through the grass. 

"It was a cougar and it was big," said Michele McLaughlin, who captured the video and two pictures with her cellphone.

"I was looking out my living room window, and I go, 'What is that?' It's like a big cat.' So I got into my vehicle and I drove to the end of the driveway and I go, 'Oh wow, That is a cougar.'" 

McLaughlin said it was around 4 p.m. on Oct. 5 when she captured the video. 

Michele McLaughlin said she noticed a large cat, which she believes was a cougar slinking through the long grass across from her home in Grand Falls. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
"It was no dog and it was not a cat," said McLaughlin.

"It was a big cougar. I mean it was big, like really big." 

After capturing the video McLaughlin took it to George Levesque, a recently retired conservation officer. 

"I've been in the woods for 35 years," said Levesque. 

"I've seen lots of cats, lynxes and bobcats and fishers that look like long, black, cats, but I'm 100 per cent sure this was a cougar." 

Levesque said he's never seen anything like what was captured in the video during his time in the forest as a conservation officer. 

"I always doubted that there was some. But what I'm surprised about is that he wasn't very shy, he was out in the open, it was a warm sunny day," he said.

"It was unusual, but there is prey there, deer, rabbits."

McLaughlin brought the video to CBC News after hearing previous reports of a big cat in Tracy that several rattled residents believe is also a cougar.

Better video needed

McLaughlin said the animal paced back and forth in the field before slinking away. (Michele McLaughlin)
CBC News gave the video to Bruce Dougan, the general manager of the Moncton Zoo who works with big cats daily including cougars. 

"It moves like a big cat," said Dougan, general manager of the Moncton Zoo. 

Dougan said it could be a cougar, but said it wasn't clear.

"To make any positive determination you'd have to have a good full shot of the body and to see the full tail," said Dougan.

"It's just not clear in that video, to me anyway what I could see of it, that I could definitely say it was a cougar." 

Castaway cats

George Levesque, a recently retired conservation officer, said he is certain the animal in the captured video is a cougar. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
There have only been two proven cases of cougars being in New Brunswick.

In 2003, a pair of hair samples were collected in Fundy National Park and proven to be from two separate cougars, one from a North American population and the other from a South American population. 

Donald McAlpine, research curator head of zoology of the New Brunswick Museum, has stated that while there may be individual cougars in the province they would be individual wanderers from the west or most likely escaped or released animals that were once kept by humans.

McAlpine said in the case of the evidence of a South American cougar it had to have been a released animal. 

He states there is no population in the province capable of reproducing.

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

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

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