Canada has three wild cat species: Bobcat, Canada Lynx, and Cougar. None of these cats are endangered or threatened at a species level in Canada, and their status varies in each province.

Bobcat Lynx rufus

bobcat in cda mapBobcats 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

Bobcat Fact Sheet

Canada Lynx Lynx canadensis

lynx in cda mapCanada lynx are found in large numbers 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.

Canada Lynx Fact Sheet

Cougar Puma concolor

cougar in cda mapThe 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 only 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.

CougarYK2013 Update from the Yukon

Cougar have only begun to move as far north as Yukon. It is believed that they are following the deer populations that are slowly moving north. Cougar are the ghosts of the forest and very few have ever been spotted in Yukon. Best chance to see one is in southern Yukon near the BC border, or near the Braeburn Elk herd. If you see what you think is a Cougar, look for a long tail with a black tip. If the tail is absent you are likely looking at a lynx, not a Cougar. Source: 

2016 Update from the Yukon

Whitehorse cougar photos, tracks, excite Yukon biologist – Evidence suggests big cats are breeding in territory

2014 Update from Saskatchewan

Cougar were a rarity in Saskatchewan prior to the mid-1990’s. Confirmed sightings and occasional specimen records became more frequent after that. By 2007 a survey of Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment field staff indicated that Cougar were distributed throughout southern Saskatchewan and into the boreal transition region. The majority of these sightings were thought to represent non-breeding animals. Breeding was confirmed only from the Cypress Hills in extreme southwest Saskatchewan and neighboring Alberta.

Saskatchewan is currently preparing its first Cougar management plan. Cougar are fully protected from hunting and trapping in the province. Landowners may kill Cougar on their own land to protect livestock or where human safety is threatened, provided the kill is reported and the carcass turned in to a Ministry office. The new plan will not immediately propose additional management actions, but it will outline potential future options for a managed harvest. Source: SK Ministry of Environment, F&W Branch

Cougar Fact Sheet

Safety in Cougar Country


18 Responses

  1. Craig Brake

    just saw a unknown wildcat about 70km southeast of regina, a little larger than housecat size, spotted with a smallish white muzzle. had a real good look at each other, not a domestic(long tail, so probably not a lynx hybrid). seemed to be hunting the prarie dogs in the area. any ideas?

    • Pat Bumstead

      Aside from your mention of a long tail, all your other comments describe a bobcat. That area is a normal part of their range, they are not overly concerned about people, and they include as many prairie dogs as possible in their diet. There are really no other wild cat options as Canada only has three wild cat species – cougar, lynx and bobcat. Cougar are not spotted, lynx are not found in the prairies, and bobcats are everywhere in southern Canada.

  2. Marc Godin

    On vacation in Quebec City. On August 23rd, 2017 we took the ferry over to Levis. Upon returning, we noticed a large cat walking along the rocks on the steep cliff from the lower ferry terminal to the houses above. Took a picture. I believe it was a bobcat.

  3. Michael K

    I saw a cougar today in Northern Ontario. It crossed highway 144 east to west at 5:48pm just north of highway 560 turnoff. Easily 6 feet long. Slender but muscular. Grey. No tufts on ears. I hit the brakes, whipped out the phone and snapped a pic as it disappeared into the woods…but phone camera was in selfie mode 🙁
    Anyway, very cool!

  4. Johanne Sabourin

    Ok. So I just saw SOMETHING go by quickly into the bush while I was zoomed in taking a picture of a buejay in Weedon, QC (eastern townships). I didn’t see it approach as I had my zoom in on the bird, but I caught it going into the trees between the cottages. It seemed to have tufts on the side of its face, however it also had a long tail! I was so caught off guard as I was walking alone that I didn’t stick around. I wish I would have got a picture ! My people here think I have a vivid imagination! Do 6you know what I could have seen?

    • Pat Bumstead

      In your area, bobcats and Canada lynx both have tufts on the face, with those of the lynx being much larger. However, neither of these has a long tail. Cougar are the only Canadian wild cat with a long tail, and they do not have tufts of any kind. The only thing I can think of is a very large domestic cat. Both Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cats have tufts on their face, long tails and can reach a good size although not even close to bobcat size. If the tail was bushy it could have been a red fox…

  5. Bess Pappas

    I just saw either a lynx or a bobcat in Boileau, Quebec, J0V 1N0 on the hill above the north side of Lac Papineau. I startled it when I approached my garden and I heard some noise in the woods. I looked and saw a relatively large grey cat with his tail toward me as he ran away. I did not see his head so i cannot be sure of the type of cat.

    • Pat Bumstead

      Given your location, chances are it was a Canada lynx. Having said that however, bobcats are getting more common in southern Canada. Bobcats like open country, lynx like forest.

  6. Bruce Hopchin

    Saw a lynx on the 4th Hole of the Victoria Golf Course (located in the city’s river valley) in Edmonton yesterday.

  7. Augusta stewart

    I saw a cougar last night about 720…on my way to work…south of mink farm near Clyde river Shelburne county nova Scotia. Slender and muscular in build…tawny brown with black or darker brown on ears and face and on tip of tail….long tail that drooped then curled up when it ran… no tufts on ears …short fur…do spots or stripes noted….I was quite close as it ran cross the highway and into the ditch

  8. Bee

    I’m pretty sure I saw a lynx in a tree above Duplessis road, on a very secluded stretch, near Mont Tremblant this morning. Is that possible?

  9. Laura

    Hello I just wanted to ley you know of at 3 sightings of a bob cat in the Whitelaw Rd.-Fife – Niska Rd. area. on the west side of Guelph On. There is a large ESA – the Speed River Wetland PSW complex and forested areas, A few years ago there was ? a cougar sighting as well. . It is a major deer yard as well. The wetland complex is over 500 acres

    There is a municipal EA ongoing now with a preferred option of widening Niska road and putting in a 2 lane bridge. The existing road is only 6 meters wide with a 20 meter road allowance. The road currently transects the wetland and the forest. There is an option to close the bridge to traffic. This would preserve the major wildlife corridor along the Speed River and provide safer passage.
    Do you have info on wildlife corridors that would be helpful to us? I can send more info Thanks laura

    • Pat Bumstead

      The best place to get information on wildlife corridors is Highway While their website is mainly focused on the Rocky Mountains, they do have a lot of stats to back up the success of the corridors, as well as a lot of other information.

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