Possible Mountain Lion
(Havelock-Belmont-Methuen, Ontario, Canada)
Its interesting to read recent comments as a lot online is quite old and my experience was last week.
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 m 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, various 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 the paw print and growl both occurred in late spring in the middle of the week (noon on a Wednesday) while virtually no one was around, there were 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.
Regarding the photo - 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" tall 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.
My height is perhaps the reason the animal growled when I stood up from kneeling in the garden.
Whatever growled at me scared me to my wit's end and I responded by yelling and banging against a tree with a stick, hoping to not encounter a bear, but there was nothing more than a Grouse peeping after that. I didn't hear it again until later on youtube and 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 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.
There are no domestic dogs around in May and there 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 our private (not us only but cottagers, not public road) 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.
I believe firmly that it was a Mountain Lion but am awaiting a DNA test result for some peace of mind one way or the other, but in the meantime Ii need trail cams.Wow, that is a fascinating read - thank you for writing to tell us of your Big Cat experiences. I can't imagine how scary it was to be growled at by something that sounded so big and wild!
My apologies for the delay in publishing this on our website, we have had a massive backlog of submissions and I am only now starting to catch up.
I am going to post this on our Facebook page so that our Facebook followers can also read it and you can also find it on our Website Blog.