Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Researcher Resigned to Ending Decade-Long Hunt for Nova Scotia Cougar

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Researcher Resigned to Ending Decade-Long Hunt for Nova Scotia Cougar

Article excerpt

Researcher ends hunt for Nova Scotia cougar


HALIFAX - After 10 years of patiently waiting for Nova Scotia's ghost cougar to appear, a determined researcher working in the dark forests of Kejimkujik National Park is calling it quits.

The elusive cougar has long been a source of intrigue and myth in Nova Scotia, and even inspired an episode of the Trailer Park Boys.

But Chris McCarthy's decade-long quest has failed to turn up any evidence that eastern cougars still roam the big park in western Nova Scotia.

"We haven't had any success in detecting any, and so after a decade we think we've put enough effort into it for now," says McCarthy, the park's manager of resource conservation.

McCarthy says there's been hundreds of sightings across the province and in neighbouring New Brunswick over the years. But a cougar hasn't been trapped, hit by a car or shot in the province since the late 1930s.

"We've had no definitive proof in Nova Scotia of cougars being here for quite a few years."

McCarthy's study involved travelling to remote corners of the 380-square-kilometre park, where scratching posts were baited with jugs containing a liquid that smelled like cougar urine. Barbed wire and Velcro strips were used to snag hair samples.

The traps collected plenty of hair, but none from a cougar.

"It would have been nice to get a hit," McCarthy says. "That would be a rare opportunity."

Even though the research led nowhere, he says he was stunned by the level of interest in the project.

"It is such a magnificent beast and people's curiosity is raised by things that are extremely rare. And it did exist here at one time, so the possibility is always there."

To be sure, the eastern cougar remains a source of intrigue in the Maritimes, where sightings continue to come in from remote campsites, lonely dirt roads and the sprawling backwoods.

House cats, lynx and bobcats are often mistaken for cougars. …

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