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Possible cougar sightings cause concern

by Olivia Rutt

BELWOOD - Possible cougar sightings near Maple Leaf Acres in Belwood over the last two weeks are prompting warnings from the Belwood Lake Cottagers Association.

“Wellington County OPP are still getting information on this, but to date, no one has reported any sightings to the OPP or the Ministry of Natural Resources,” said OPP Constable Josh Cunningham.  

Elizabeth Dorff of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) said the Guelph office has not received any calls about cougar sightings.

“Cougars are elusive animals and actual sightings in Ontario are extremely rare. The majority of alleged cougar sightings are misidentifications,” she said.

“If anyone can provide evidence such as photos or footprints and could provide that to us as soon as possible after an alleged sighting – we would look into it.”

Dorff said there were only 24 records of physical evidence of cougars recorded in Ontario from 1991 to 2006. The MNRF does not formally track cougar sightings.

“Cougars are known to be kept in captivity by individuals as pets, in zoos and in other educational facilities,” said Dorff.

“It’s likely that escaped or intentionally released cougars may be responsible for rare sightings, especially in southern Ontario.”

John Hamilton of the Belwood Lake Cottagers Association is warning members about the possible sightings and asking people to use caution.

Report sightings

Cunningham is asking anyone who sees what they suspect is a cougar to use caution and call the authorities.

“A large predatory animal like a cougar would be a considerable threat to public safety. It’s the kind of event that people should contact the MNR or OPP about immediately,” he said.

 

September 8, 2017

 
 

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