Re(3): Canadian DNA results on Cougar evidence

I asked Rick Rosatte about his purported estimate of 500 or 800 pumas in eastern Canada. He responded: "I have never published or stated how many cougars there are in Ontario as I have no idea. I think the 500 estimate was Stews [Stewart Kenn] when the Ontario Puma Foundation was functional." The 500 estimate almost certainly was Kenn's, based on all the sightings he had learned about. He assumed that people could distinguish pumas from other animals. I've learned, as have many others, that many or most people can't.

In the 1990s Paul Beier published a paper on his research on mountain lions in the Santa Ana Mtns in southern California. He and his associates solicited reports of lions from residents and followed them up. They learned that 90-95% of the alleged lion sightings were not lions. If this is the case in an area where lions actually occur, what about areas where they've been extirpated for generations of humans?

A couple of Canadian wildlife biologists published reports on sightings that they took seriously. In 1988 Helen Gerson reported the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources had received 318 reports of pumas in wild areas across southern Ontario between 1935 and 1983.

Helene Joliceour published another paper in 2006. The Quebec wildlife agency had received more than 1000 reports of sightings between 1955 and 2005. But there is no evidence of breeding over all those years. Gauthier tells me private ownership of pumas is illegal in Quebec. In Ontario, regulations concerning puma ownership are perhaps the most lax in North America and probably account for the yearly trickle of confirmations, many or most of which were definitely former captives.

The easternmost area in Canada with a confirmed breeding population is Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. It is possible but not confirmed that small populations exist elsewhere in Saskatchewan and in Manitoba. Wolf trapping is taking a heavy toll of wild carnivores across Canada at this time.


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