Wild Cougar Photographed in Waterton National Park

by Robert Berdan
August 27, 2010



Wild Cougar Waterton National Park by Robert Berdan

Wild Cougar - photographed in Waterton National Park

The Cougar also called Mountain Lion or Puma is rarely seen let alone photographed in the wild. It is estimated that there are less then 700 breeding adults in all of Alberta and less then 100 of them in National Parks which makes sighting one a truly unique and exciting experience. My wife and I were driving back from the Belly River Campground in Waterton National Park when I spotted what at first looked like a deer until I saw its' long tail. I pulled over and immediately saw that it was a cougar - my first ever sighting in the wild. My wife rolled down the window and the cougar seeing us sat down on its' haunches and just looked back at us. I ripped off my sunglasses and grabbed my Canon D50 with 300 mm F4 lens and 1.4X teleconverter and immediately started shooting out of the window. In front of the cougar was some long grass that was messing up my autofocus so I switched to manual focus mode. After taking about 15 shots, I went for my faster 300 mm F2.8 lens with 1.5 X teleconverter attached to my Nikon D300 and grabbed a few more shots. He then stood up and disappeared into the bush. What a rush to see a wild cougar and I was happy to see that it was not collared as so many bears and moose I have seen in National and Provincial Parks. In all I estimated I only had about 2 minutes with this beautiful animal, but that short exchange will be with me and my wife for a life time.

Wild cougar mountain lion in Waterton National Park by Robert Berdan ©

The cougar on seeing my vehicle stopped and sat down for a minute to watch us.

Cougar Facts: 1.6-2.5 meters in length and males can can weight between 70-100 kg (155-220 lbs). Muscular body with tawny red to gray fur. They frequent low-elevation, river-bottom valleys of montane and subalpine forest. They feed on deer, mountain goats, mountain sheep, elk, moose, beavers, rabbits, birds, domestic dogs and cats. They have been sighted around Waterton townsite, Banff, Sheep river Sanctuary, Castle Wilderness, Sundre to Nordegg regions in Alberta. Most sightings occur in winter. A few years ago in Banff a cross country skier was attacked and killed by a mountain lion.

These white-tailed deer were photographed just a little way up the road from the cougar.


More information about Cougars


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