Alleged cougar spotted in southern Ontario
One man claims he saw a cougar stalking a duck for dinner, expert says 'it's more than possible'
People living in the southernmost part of Ontario insist a cougar is prowling in their midst. And an expert said they could be right.
At least three people living along Concession 4 in rural Amherstburg, south of Windsor, Ont., are certain they've seen a cougar in the area the last few days.
Sightings were also reported a bit to the west of that location a week earlier.
Cecil Farmer and his wife, Connie, were eating dinner Sunday evening just after 5 p.m. when his wife spotted a large, gold coloured animal stalking through the field across the road from their house.
Farmer grabbed his binoculars to get a better look. He saw what looked like a cougar stalking a duck.
"The cougar was maybe 30 feet (nine metres) down the way and snuck up and got maybe within 10 feet (three metres) ... then he took off and he jumped up in the air, probably about four feet or five feet (1.5 metres)," Farmer said. "Anyway, the duck got away."
Shortly after, the cougar took off through the underbrush and Farmer went out to investigate.It didn't take him long to find some tracks.
Farmer isn't the only one who has seen the alleged cougar.
Shane Broderick was driving to work early Saturday morning near Farmer's property when he spotted a large gold animal crossing the road. At first, he thought it might be a fox, but realized it was too large for that.
"It just went across the road after Cecil's and there's a little creek right there ... it ran about 40 feet (12 metres) out and then turned back to look at me," Broderick said.
Animal likely a pet
Both Broderick and Farmer believe the cougar was once a domestic animal.
That's what Daniel J. Mennill, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Windsor, also believes.
"The most likely explanation is that this cougar is an escaped or released pet, that grew too big for its owner," Mennill wrote in an email to CBC News.
Mennill said "it's more than just possible" a cougar is living in Amherstburg
"It is likely that cougars exist in the wild in Ontario," he wrote.
A recent report by Rick Rosatte of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources documented many lines of evidence suggesting that cougars exist in the wild in Ontario.
The report includes a photo of a cougar spotted in Orillia and jaguar spotted in Guelph.
"These animals were thought to exist in the wild throughout eastern North America up until World War II," Mennill said. "After that, they became much more rare. Many people thought they were extirpated."
Mennill has witnessed a cougar in the wild. Just not in Ontario.
"I've seen cougars in the wild at my research site in Costa Rica. They are magnificent animals," he said. "They certainly get your blood pumping when you see one."