#LSN_Outdoors Mandi Weist hand by Cougar Paw
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO March 26, 2017 (LSN)My boyfriend, my two friends Casey Nykyforchyn and Istvan Balogh and I, had gone out shooting Saturday afternoon at a gravel pit on the boreal road, south west of Thunder Bay, Ontgario Canada . On the way back, at about 2:00pm, we noticed this van parked on the side of the road at about km 13 on the road. Making sure they were not in any trouble, we had asked them if they were okay. They had told us they were, and that they were just stopped to check out the dead mountain lion on the bank. Being shocked, we had to check it out as well.
We approached the animal and we realized that it was 100% a mountain lion by the colour, the giant teeth and paws, and of course the long tail, lying dead on a patch of snow partially frozen. The cat had porcupine quills in its shoulder and cheek and had looked really thin and starved. Being as it was such a rare find, and had been solid proof that these elusive cats actually do prowl the forests of northwestern Ontario, we couldn't leave it behind! It would be such an amazing animal to have preserved!
We loaded the cat onto the roof of my jeep and took off to find cell service to call Boreal Tales Taxidermy and find out what exactly can be done with the animal (keeping in mind that we would also have to notify the MNR). The taxidermist's, Dan and Robin, had been almost in denial that we indeed had possession of the great elusive mountain lion! They had also told us we were to fill out a couple forms online to report the cat and receive a confirmation number, which I had done right away.
We finally arrived at the taxidermist's house where they took the animal and our confirmation number to being the preservation.
After speaking with Dan over the phone a while later, he had the animal skinned and informed us that it was an adult male, and the animal had no quills in it's mouth, but however had been just skin and bone, having also suffered from muscle atrophy, meaning the poor cat had not had a very pleasant end of it's life. It was also found out the cat's stomach and intestines had been completely empty, suggesting that it had died from natural causes.
The next day just after noon, I had received a phone call from a Conservation officer, Rick Leblanc, wanting to meet up so I can show him exactly where the animal was found. Upon meeting him, he told me mountain lions are an endangered species in Ontario and being in possession of one is illegal. He said the ministry is confiscating the cat, but is still continuing the preservation process, getting the animal stuffed and is going to be on display for educational purposes. He had also told me that this find is the very first confirmed carcass of a mountain lion in Ontario in all of history.
In the end, I was bummed that I could not keep the beautiful animal, but it still is nice that the cat will be preserved and put on display where many people can see and learn about it. It was an amazing experience and I am glad I was able to be a part of it, as it is a big point in history for Ontario wildlife.
Photos and story by Manda Weist