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Frozen cougar carcass deemed not part of resident population

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 4:40 PM - Cougars are considered an endangered species in Ontario, and they're rarely seen -- so when the carcass of a partially-frozen cougar was spotted on the side of the road northwest of Thunder Bay in March, it caused quite a stir.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) sent tissue from the animal to a U.S. research station in Montana in the spring.

Now, the results are back.

The Ministry says the animal's "DNA fingerprint" doesn't match that of cougars in the area. It was determined with 95 per cent probability the animal is most closely linked to cougars from parts of Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska.

But researchers are quick to point out people shouldn't "read too much" into the results, according to the CBC. MNRF spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski told the media outlet that just because the animal has U.S. markers, it doesn't mean it actually came from there.

She says the ministry fully understands the public interest surrounding the discovery.

"I think there was a lot of interest because it is so rare to actually come upon a cougar carcass," she told the CBC. "They are endangered but they are also highly elusive. For us to end up having a carcass, found on the side of the road, is unprecedented and an excellent opportunity to do some studying and to also try and determine - if we could - where it came from."


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