|Nanda Guha, the owner of Guha's Tiger and Lion Farm, denies any connection to a cougar attack near his property. (QMI Agency/COREY WILKINSON)
If the cougar recently shot and killed in central Ontario - the first killed in the province since 1884 - was an escaped pet, it didn’t come from a local tiger farm, says the owner.
Nanda Guha, the owner of Guha’s Tiger and Lion Farm in Utterson, Ont., near where a cougar attacked and killed a family dog before police shot the big cat dead, said he’s been fielding numerous phone calls and repeated visits from the police, but the beast was not his.
“It has nothing to do with my farm,” he told QMI Agency this week.
The body of the cougar is still being examined at the University of Guelph, and it could be weeks to determine whether it was wild or a pet.
Ministry of Natural Resources officials said the cat appeared to be partially declawed, leading to the theory it had escaped a domestic environment.
“It could be anyone’s cougar,” Guha said. “They can travel for hundreds of kilometres.”
He said he keeps two cougars - as well as six lions and a black panther - on his farm, but all are accounted for and well secured.
“I check the fences every day when I feed them. What more can a person do?” Guha said.
However, in 2008, a 400-lb panther escaped from Guha’s, mauling the farm owner’s dog before it was put down by police.
Now, with the shooting of a cougar on July 7, whether its Guha’s or not, neighbours are calling for the municipality to tighten restrictions on keeping exotic animals.
“I need to know we’re safe up here,” said area resident Karen Bainbridge. “We need some type of registration to show that these animals are in our area and how many there are.
“We need some warning system. There’s got to be something in place to let us know a cat is lose.”
Natural Resources spokesperson Jolanta Kowlaski say does the agency does its best to investigate cougar sightings, and to keep the public informed.
“Sometimes people don’t call us for days and then the problem is, what can we do at that point?” she said.