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Calendonia woman claims to have seen cougar

Jasper the cougar cat calls to Oaklawn Farm Zoo employee Maria Weinberg as she approaches his enclosure.
Jasper the cougar cat calls to Oaklawn Farm Zoo employee Maria Weinberg as she approaches his enclosure.

Thelma Morris-Fogarty doesn’t have any physical proof of what she saw. She didn’t have time to get a camera. There are no tracks in the ground. But she is certain that on Monday she spotted a cougar.

Morris-Fogarty lives in Cameron Settlement in Caledonia, Guysborough County. It’s a remote area and the property they live on used to be a farm.

She was at the storm door of her home when she saw what at first glance she thought must be a golden-coloured Lab. But then the saw a big tail curled up, a dark strip on the animal’s back. Looking at the head she saw short ears.

“It was a great big cat,” she said. “It was a cougar.”

The animal came across her driveway and when she called for her husband, it startled and took off.

“Now I wish I could have kept my mouth shut,” she said.

Morris-Fogarty called a friend in New Glasgow, Steve MacLean, to let him know. He’s had an interest in cougar sightings for a while. MacLean suggested she call the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. They came out to investigate but were unable to find any evidence.

She said that after she had first spotted the cougar she could see his tracks in the wet grass, but she didn’t want to follow it too far. By the time DNR came, they were gone.

“It’s not verified, except for the fact I saw it,” she said.

While she said it’s a little frustrating not having concrete proof, she said she’s glad that she was able to see the animal.

“He was big and powerful,” she said. “It was something to see. I feel very fortunate.”

She said she’s talked to some other people in the area who claim to have seen one as well, but they don’t want to go public about it.

MacLean has been studying cougar sightings in the area as a hobby for some time. He has known Morris-Fogarty for many years and said she is a reliable person.

“I would call it a high-quality sighting,” he said, pointing out that it was during daylight and in close proximity.

That said, MacLean understands why some people including DNR officials claim there are no cougars in the province. There are thousands of trail cameras throughout the province but no one has spotted one on them.

“That’s crazy, there should be a picture,” he said.

Even in the light snow, he said there should be tracks and people doing raccoon hunting have never treed a cougar.

“There has to be some sort of reconciliation between the high number of sightings and the lack of proof.”

But then again, he finds it intriguing that people seem to be describing the same thing when it comes to cougar sightings.

If it was just something that people were imagining, why are there descriptions not different?

“Why aren’t they seeing kangaroos?”

In 2015, Jill and Terry Trembley captured what they believed to be a photo of a cougar on a trail camera. Biology experts said, however, it was likely a bobcat.

“DNR get reports of eastern cougar sightings from time to time but there is, to date, no evidence of an eastern cougar population in Nova Scotia,” DNR spokesman Bruce Nunn said Friday.

Morris-Fogarty hopes that one day someone will get the concrete proof needed.

“They’re here and we have to change the records that say they’re not. They are here. I saw one.”

 

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