Who says there are no wild cougars in Nova Scotia?

Harry Sullivan
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Two River John-area residents are convinced that an animal that crossed in front of them on the Upper River John Road last week was a cougar. Above is a photo taken of a cougar at the wildlife park near Shubenacadie.


Authorities may caution otherwise but two River John-area residents are convinced that an animal that crossed in front of them on the Upper River John Road, Pictou County, last week was indeed a cougar.

"It sat there and it kind of looked at us," said Heather Morrissey, who said she and friend Karl Karlsson spotted the cougar one day last week. "And I mean I seen the thing directly. It looked at me when it was down over the embankment," she said, adding the lighting conditions were good and the pair was only between seven to nine metres away from the animal before it slipped away into the woods.

"And it was a sunny day, there was no confusion," Morrissey said, adding that as a former animal control officer in Burlington, Ont. for 18 years, she has had previous contact with eastern cougars.

"It was a very rare occasion but we did see them," she said. "I've seen them also in wildlife parks and things like that, so this definitely was a cougar."

Shavonne Meyer, a Department of Natural Resources biologist in Truro, said while Morrissey's description "sounds a lot like a cougar," so do a lot of the 50 to 100 sightings the department receives each year.

"They sound great," Meyers said, of similar sightings that often come from "very credible sources too. But without the physical evidence, we say the jury is still out."

Meyers said the department records each reported sighting they receive and where possible, the reports are checked out by DNR staff.

"And in no cases have we been able to find physical evidence to substantiate the observations," she said, of such things as distinctive tracks, scat, fur or a cougar carcass.

"We basically say that we're very confident that there's no breeding population of cougars in Nova Scotia. But the possibility of a transient or a single captive animal is fathomable. It's just that we haven't found any physical evidence to be able to corroborate that," she said.

"We're not saying that they're not here, not saying that they are. (We're) saying that the information we need to really assess that is not complete."

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Recent comments

  • Kim Perrier
    July 17, 2015 - 22:09

    We without a doubt saw a mountain lion walking across a farmers field today around 7:00. A green tractor was out mowing and this huge lion like animal was just walking across the field. Huge paws, large cat. This happened between the Shubenacadie exits. Coolest thing I ever saw, sure wish I had of had time to take a picture, we turned again and went back unfortunately the cat was gone.

  • peter
    April 21, 2014 - 18:20

    There are diffidently cougars here in Nova Scotia. I live in the Annapolis Valley, Bridgetown area to be exact and one crossed in front of my car. This took place on the outskirts of the town on a back road. I was about 40 feet away give or take and a black one came out from the brush and took about three huge strides across the road and was gone into the brush. This was about five years ago, and haven't met one since and don't want to.

  • Kara Lang (nee Hinxman)
    April 16, 2014 - 20:53

    There are definitely cougars in NS. My parents BOTH saw one, just a couple years ago, in the field behind their house in Granville Centre. My Mum tried to take a picture of it but the little disposable camera she had didn't get a good shot (no zoom). I have no doubt they are out and about in NS, in endangered numbers, but still out there!

  • John Mclellan
    March 27, 2014 - 20:20

    There are cougars here, almost 15 years ago a cougar jumped across the road while I was driving... It came out of the woods jumped in the middle of the road and one more jump he was gone. This was in the Maitland Bridge area just passed Kedgi going towards Annapolis.

  • Lorraine Saulnier
    March 26, 2014 - 11:36

    I saw a cougar about 20 years ago, it crossed in front of my car on my way to French Village on the airport arterial. It jumped on the embankment and stared at me for about a minute, then jumped into the woods. This is on the outskirts of Saint John.

  • Baisle Saulnier
    March 26, 2014 - 06:51

    I seen one many years ago on what is now called Ceader Lake Rd. Outside side of Lake Doucette Digby Co. My dad and a trapper followed the tracks and verified that it was a cougar.. This would of been around 1960..

  • Scott Ritchie
    March 25, 2014 - 16:45

    This year while my wife and I were snowshoeing, I saw several animal tracks in my day old snow shoe tracks that I cannot identify . They were at least 3-4 inches across and almost perfectly round, 3-4 inches deep in the fluffy snow. A cougar was the only animal that I could see making this size track.

  • Andrew
    March 25, 2014 - 13:55

    They have had quite a few sightings in Annapolis County as well.

    • paulette
      March 31, 2014 - 20:58

      I was driving on the highway just passing bridgetown going towards cornwallis and I looked over and saw a black cougar walking out of the woods. It was early morning. This was about 5 years ago.