The Canadian Press
ST. CATHARINES (May 4, 2009)
Smile, cougar. You're on big cat candid camera.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has purchased 40 "trail cameras" to set up around Ontario in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the oft-reported but ever-elusive cougar.
The $300 motion- and heat-triggered cameras are meant to add mechanical eyes to an ongoing provincial cougar study headed by Rick Rosatte, a research scientist with the ministry.
Rosatte said they will be set up in areas where "promising" sightings, tracks or DNA are reported. Ontario residents have reported more than 500 cougar sightings since 2002.
The vast majority have been cases of mistaken identity.
"I can't tell you how many coyotes and bobcats and deer we end up with," said Rosatte.
The last official sighting was in the 1880s.
One of the 20 pieces of "solid evidence" Rosatte has collected pointing to pumas in Ontario comes from Niagara. Ministry biologist Anne Yagi confirmed cougar DNA in a bog in 2004.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org