A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World
Canada has three wild cat species: Bobcat Lynx rufus, Canada Lynx Lynx canadensis and Cougar or Mountain Lion Puma concolor. None of these cats are endangered or threatened at a species level in Canada, and their status varies in each province. The Eastern Cougar subspecies Puma concolor couguar was designated Endangered in April 1978, but the species was reconsidered in April 1998 and placed in the Data Deficient category, meaning there is not enough known about them to accurately list them.
Bobcats are found only along the southern portion of the country, although their range is increasing northwards with forest clearance.
BC – classed as both a fur bearer and a game animal. The fur harvest is regulated, but in most of the province, an unlimited number of bobcats can be trapped. As a game animal, from 1-5 bobcats can be killed depending on the wildlife management region.
AB – classed as both a fur bearer and a game animal in two southeastern wildlife management regions only. Can also be hunted to protect domestic livestock. In the winter of 2009/09, 8 pelts were taken, compared with 21 trapped in 2009/10.
SK – trapping allowed, monitored through fur quota
MB – trapping stopped in 1985, but resumed in 2002. In the winter of 2008/09, 11 pelts were taken in the province.
ON – trapping allowed, monitored through fur quota
QC – population has shown a significant decrease in the last few years, and all trapping and hunting was halted in 1991. All reports of sightings are monitored.
NS – has the highest bobcat population of any jurisdiction in north eastern North America. Harvesting is allowed by means of trapping and hunting with hounds.
NB – trapping resumed in 1992, and a harvest lottery system was used in 2004 and 2005
Canada lynx are found across Canada in the boreal forest. Trapping is allowed throughout most of the country, and harvest quotas fluctuate with the 9-11 year snowshoe hare cycle.
YK, NWT, BC, AB, SK – trapping allowed on a quota system
MB – limited harvest allowed in northern areas, no season in the southern part of the province.
ON – trapping allowed on a quota system
QC – trapping is restricted to certain high density sectors and a legal harvest period of just a few weeks
NF population is monitored and harvesting is conducted in those parts of the province where population densities permit.
NS – found only in one remaining area, Cape Breton Island, and no harvest is permitted.
The cougar population in Canada varies greatly from west to east. BC and AB have stable populations, and game hunting is allowed on a quota basis, ensuring that no more than 10% of an area’s population is harvested annually.
Canada’s big cat is classed as endangered and protected in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
While the cougar has virtually disappeared from eastern Canada, there are signs that it may be moving east and repopulating former ranges. In recent years, a greater presence of cougars in central and eastern Canada has been confirmed through trapping and DNA evidence.
In 2010, after a four year study, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed the presence of cougar in that province based on tracks, DNA and scat samples.
In Manitoba, one cougar was shot in 2004 and a second was discovered in a hunter’s coyote trap in 2005. Quebec confirmed the existence of cougar in that province in 2005, adding two sightings to the hair samples retrieved in 2000 from a car that had collided with a cougar.
DNA analysis of hair samples collected in 2003 from posts treated with cougar urine in New Brunswick have provided evidence of the cougar’s existence there. There are many reports of cougar sightings in Nova Scotia each year, but no scientific proof of their presence in that province.
Range maps courtesy of the Canadian Biodiversity Website
For more information on the wild cats of Canada, please see the following fact sheets on our website: