Black cougar spotted on McCraney Creek trails

As Oakville resident Marie DiGiovine hiked the McCraney Creek Trail from Kingsridge Driveshe remembers a feeling of unease that invaded her and that she quickly chased from her head.

“I was like, ‘This is Oakville. Don’t be crazy. Nobody’s going to jump out of the bushes.'”

Moments later, an animal larger than a coyote crossed the trail in front of her. He had a shiny black coat. She froze in her tracks.

“It was like a giant cat. I freaked out at that moment,” DiGiovine said.

“I was paralyzed.”

The animal stopped to observe it, giving DiGiovine time to make out a cat’s face, ears and long tail.

“I’ve seen black bears and deer, but never a cougar. I thought cougars were brown. This one was all black. I know that sounds unbelievable, but it was definitely, 100%, a black cougar.”

When she took out her cell phone to try and snap a photo, DiGiovine said the animal disappeared into the thick brush. All she managed to capture was an image of the empty track.

“I stood there for a while because I didn’t know what to do,” says DiGiovine.

Then, thinking the animal was scared of her, she continued along the path, passing right past where the creature was standing.

Back home she posted on a Facebook group of local moms, sparking a lively discussion. Following the advice of other members of the group, she contacted the Oakville & Milton Humane Society. He was told that since it was getting dark, animal control officers probably wouldn’t investigate until the next morning.

John Bugailiskis, the OMHS spokesman, said by email Thursday that the officer investigating the report believes the sighting was of a black labradoodle.

DiGiovine expected no one to believe her — her adult children were skeptical — but she’s adamant she knows what she’s seen.

Although there is no official confirmation of the presence of a black cougar in the area, last week the Brantford Expositor reported that a Six Nations resident spotted a black cougar in his driveway on June 28.

Ohsweken (Six Nations of the Grand River) is about 70 km southwest of Oakville.

According to a 2011 report in the Canadian Field Naturalista population of free-ranging cougars (also called cougars) occurs in Ontario.

While most cougars are brown, Ministry of Natural Resources biologist Rick Rosatte’s report noted that there were 52 credible sightings of black (melanistic) cougars during the four-year study period. from 2006 to 2010.

The same report also states that cougars have been known to travel up to 50 km in a single night. Rosatte also wrote that some of these reports of black cougars may be from escaped exotic animals.

Cougars feed primarily on white-tailed deer and have been listed as endangered in Ontario since 2008.

This provincial government website states that “cougars found in Ontario may be escaped or released pets, dispersing animals from western North America, native animals, or a combination of these factors.

According this CBC article from 2001Ontario is the only province in Canada that does not legislate the ownership of exotic animals, such as tigers and lions.

Have you encountered a mysterious glowing black creature in Oakville? Contact the Oakville News with your tips.

Lynn Lau

Lynn Lau is a writer whose work has appeared in publications across the country. Raised in Alberta, Lynn is a graduate of the Carleton School of Journalism and lives in Oakville with her husband, two boys and a very small dog.

Read more by Lynn Lau

July 7, 2022

4:32 p.m.

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