Cougar reports difficult to verfiy |Mark North|darkdorset@hotmail.com|08/26/05 at 11:01:31|Mark_North|xx|0|86.131.84.100|By Carl Clutchey - The Chronicle-Journal

August 22, 2005

Finding sasquatch might be easier.

That’s the kind of summer biologists and conservationists in Manitouwadge have been having, with a high number of unverified cougar sightings being reported to the local Ministry of Natural Resources office.

“I have no idea what these people are seeing, but there have been a lot of reports from people who are convinced they saw (a cougar),” Manitouwadge area biologist Steve Bobrowicz said in an interview.

The reports started coming in earlier this summer after the MNR and local wildlife enthusiasts decided possible sightings should be reported and investigated.

“The point was to try and get some real solid evidence,” Bobrowicz said.

The long-tailed big cat, technically the eastern cougar, has been officially declared extinct in Ontario.

Wildlife officials believe there must be some validity to the reports, since they have come in from across the region from individuals who don’t know each other.

Bobrowicz said the closest he came to confirming the animal’s possible presence in the Manitouwadge area occurred about a a month ago when he made a plaster cast from paw prints discovered by a local resident.

The prints “did look like they were from a large cat, but whether it was a cougar or a lynx, we can’t say for sure,” Bobrowicz said.

“We’ve been hearing lots of stories, but no hard evidence,” he added.

No hair or fecal matter were found at the site where the prints were discovered, Bobrowicz added.

A motion-camera was set up at the site, but it was either lost or stolen.

In previous years, the MNR has attributed cougar sightings to illegal pets that have either been lost or released by their owners.

“This is not an animal to keep as a pet,” Bobrowicz said.||