On Saturday night at 9:30 pm a Mountain Lion (also recognised as cougar or Puma concolor) was spotted near Wellandport, Ontario. The extremely rare sighting was posted by a member of the Niagara 411 group page.
Group member, Brittany McMann posted a map with a pin on Wednesday, saying that she, “Didn’t think to post here until today however in this location this past Saturday night at 9:30pm, I almost hit a mountain lion. I tried reporting to Ministry of Natural Resources, however I could not get through. I want people to be aware that it is lurking around West Lincoln. Unfortunately I was unable to get a photo as it was really dark out. I didn’t think we had these here, but apparently we do and they’re endangered.”
“I saw the cougar coming out of the ditch, had my highbeams on and it stepped out into the road and I had to slam on my brakes,” Brittany McCann told TO Times. “It slowly turned around and walked back into the field it came out of. I definitely saw the reflection of its eyes in my headlights. I couldn’t believe the size of it,” said McCann.
“I want people to be aware that they are in fact in the area,” said McCann.
Several comments ensued from posters who were doubting the eyewitness and one member posted details about cougars along with images. Once she saw the images, the eyewitness said, “Pictures of these cougars are identical to the cat I saw. Large, majestic, and scary.”
“I am so glad I was in my car. It was no more than 15 feet from my car coming out of the ditch,” said McCann on the thread.
Another member said they had seen a Mountain Lion in the area two years ago. “About 2 years ago, it was in my neighbour’s yard, my mom and I saw him hunched down as we drove by at like 8 pm….no one believed us until we saw it again and took pics 2 weeks later!”
One of the other members said they had seen tracks frozen in ice on the Bruce Trail last February near Grimsby. Another Niagara 411 group member said they spotted a cougar on Red Valley Parkway 2 years ago while one other said “We have at least one in the Queenston area in NOTL.”
According to mountainlion.org, cougars are opportunistic hunters, typically hunting alone from dusk to dawn, taking their prey (primarily deer) from behind. On average, a mountain lion will kill a deer about once a week. They also dine on coyotes, raccoons, rodents, elk, feral hogs, and even porcupines.
Mountain lions have a distinctive “M” shaped pad with three lobes on the rear of the heel (dogs only have two lobes). Their claw marks do not show in the track. Walking, the cat’s hind foot steps in his fore track, creating overlapping patterns. Their toes slant — similar to human feet — indicating left or right foot. Dog tracks are more symmetrical, and the raised dirt in the middle forms an “X” shape.
According to the province of Ontario the Mountain lion (Cougar) was already assessed as endangered when the Endangered Species Act took effect in 2008.
The species has a very wide range, encompassing large areas of North, Central and South America. According to the mountain lion page on ontario.ca in Ontario, Cougars are most likely believed to live in northern Ontario because of the remoteness of the habitat.
However, there have been many reports from the southern part of the province. If you do see a mountain lion you are advised to contact the The Ministry of Natural Resources. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful.