Ottawa woman claims sighting of rare cougar
An Ottawa woman claims she has spotted an eastern cougar — one of the province's most elusive animals — in the city's west end.
Kim Trites said she was driving westbound on the Queensway about 10:30 p.m Tuesday when she spotted the big cat between the Bayshore exit and Moodie Drive.
"I say that thing looked like easily four feet long and the tail about the same. I'm guessing it would have been about 150, 160 pounds. It was light brown, short ears. Great big thick tail, like a theatre rope," Trites said.
The sighting is just the latest in Eastern Ontario in the past year; the cats were reported three times west of the city in Arnprior and once east of the city in Lac George, in 2010.
The Kemptville branch of the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources says it gets on average 12 such reports a year in Eastern Ontario.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has been unable to confirm any of the sightings, but ministry investigators have documented evidence of cougar tracks and have found scat — feces — that tested positive for cougar DNA.
The ministry has been trying unsuccessfully to take a photograph of the animals for the past five years.
The last known photograph of an eastern cougar in Ontario was taken in 1884 — more than 120 years ago — lending the animal a reputation as the province's Bigfoot.
Kemptville District Area biologist Scott Smithers said almost all supposed cougar sightings turn out to be dogs, deer, lynx, bobcats or coyotes. If the sighting in Ottawa was a cougar, he said, it's more likely to be an exotic pet than a wild eastern cougar.
But Trites, who came back to the spot on the road to look for tracks on Wednesday, said she knows what she saw and wants the ministry to investigate.
"Absolutely … it's an eastern cougar. I looked, I made sure. I looked, there was no doubt anyway, but I checked the web. It's just 100 per cent of what I saw," she said.