Big Cat in the Kawarthas

by Anon
(Kawarthas)

Its interesting to read recent comments as a lot online is quite old and my experience was this past summer.

In 2015 I found a massive cat print in mid-May while looking at wild pink lady's slipper orchids that bloom on the outer edge of our cottage property, I went to the hardware store and used lake water to mix plaster and made a cast of the paw print at the time having never seen anything like it I assumed it was a Bobcat because my father had seen a young pair of Bobcats at the cottage in the 1980s, but in retrospect the print is way too big and lacks the features of coyote prints.

We have a large lot beside our cottage that has a 400 metre buffer zone before their actual dwelling, basically leaving untouched for decades a wide swath of land that connects a deep forest/swamp with a fresh water spring-fed lake. Our lot is at the end of a 4 km dirt road, the next road is almost 1 km away at its own end and these experiences all occurred within 50 feet of each other across three years in the heart of the untouched land I'm describing.

This May I heard a very loud, very angry, growl from close by and then the animal vanished like a ghost. It scared me to my core. I was alone and dressed all in grey doing some gardening trying to not get eaten by mosquitoes and when I stood up suddenly in the garden I was growled at. I was standing very near to the forest edge but on top of a raised sand septic bed, against which we have a thick layer of dead branches from a storm in 2014 that forced hydro to remove a number of trees in the area and they left the debris where it fell. We have grouse and snowshoe hares that have both confirmed bred young on our property in this time frame as well as countless squirrels, chipmunks, reptiles, raccoons, porcupines, deer etc regularly including other endangered species like the orchids and blanding's turtles in the same swamp that I mentioned being accessible from the location of the incidents. The environment is right for a cougar to travel through and paw print/growl both occurred in late spring in the middle of the week (noon on a Wednesday) while virtually no one was around (only a few people across the lake at a public camp). I also found several large pieces of tubular scat very near to the growl and paw print spots.

I have submitted the scat and paw print the MNR in Peterborough and I hope to have a DNA confirmed species at least from the scat. I will also be buying a trail camera or two to hopefully capture it on tape if it returns next spring or if its still in the area.

I have a photo of the paw print but can't post it to the comment here, I'll try this free hosting service but it likely won't work well ... anyway the print has consistently spaced oval toes and a clean M pad that doesn't dip inward like a canine and its missing claw marks like you'd get with coyotes or wolves, also lynx leave huge areas of fur print and bobcats are considerably smaller I believe. I'm 6'5" and from my wrist to the base of my middle finger is 4". The print is nearly 4" round which is astonishing and is also again very consistent with Mountain Lions.

Whatever growled at me scared me to my wit's end. I was yelling and banging against a tree with a stick hoping to not encounter a bear but I quickly realized that it wasn't a bear. I didn't hear it again until later on youtube and a lion sound is exactly right and very terrifying as it was in real life. It was a very pronounced, deep and angry growl followed quickly by rapid succession of scratches like running or climbing but again it vanished as if into thin air leaving only a pile of turds, unless it was another animal's scat but it's very unlikely that another large animal was around that day as the scat was very fresh and I didn't collect it until several days later when I decided to go to the MNR. No domestic dogs around in May and would be no reason for a dog to take a dump in this random spot on relatively remote property.

Incidentally huge portions of our lake are crown land and the 4 km road winds continuously around a meandering swamp that is littered with pockets of thick forests and various high rock edges that lead throughout the landscape as it is Canadian shield with countless pockets of marsh and lake water.

Thank you so much for your interesting and thought provoking report. I hope you heard back from the Ministry of Natural Resources and know what species the scat was from.

If you do know, please update us with a comment.

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