Museum’s beautiful cougar named

NAME THAT COUGAR – The preserved female cougar at the J.A.V. David Museum in Killarney now has a name, thanks to Ms. Lamb’s combined Grade 3, 4, and 5 class at the Lakeside Christian School. Student Nolan Sawatsky came up with her name, “Shadow,” and the students voted it in. For submitting the winning name, the class received a gift certificate to The Beach Hut for an ice cream cone each, and a special certificate stating that they had named her. Several other school classes in Killarney also entered the contest to name the female cougar, who now graces the Williams Avenue museum. In the photo are, back row (from left): Josh Archambault, Patrick Carey, Brooklyn Cameron, Jaelyn Martens, and Allison Lamb (teacher). Middle row: Titus Neufeld, Jayden Seidel, Kaleb Friesen, Peter Clarke, Owen Hill, Ian Guenther, and Judah Harder. Front row: William Bell, Vienna Neufeld, Emery Heide, Nolan Sawatsky, Ameliia Polishchuk, Keira Hemrica, and Jarryd Thain.


PRIDE OF PLACE – Joyce and John Dietrich pose with the J.A.V. David Museum’s newest arrival – a rare and elegant preserved cougar. After she was accidently trapped in November of 2015, a plan was hatched to preserve her for both teaching and education purposes, and for all to admire. Scott Holman, a taxidermist in Brandon, did the work on the cougar display, said Joyce Dietrich, board member at the J.A.V. David Museum in Killarney. “It only weighed around 30 pounds, because the rock it is on is plastic,” she said of the once 107-pound cat. See The Guide’s story on Shadow the cougar below, from the June 10, 2016 edition.


Cougar coming home to museum


A rare cougar – accidentally trapped and killed last fall in the area – is coming back to Killarney to stay.

Hobby trapper John Dietrich, who runs a trap line on his land southwest of Killarney, unexpectedly caught the sleek, 107-pound feline in one of his snares last November.

One of the animal’s paws was bigger than his own hand, he said.

And now he and his wife Joyce want to bring the preserved animal’s body back home, to the J.A.V. David Museum in Killarney, where Joyce volunteers as a board member.

“Cougars are so rare it would have been a shame to throw her away,” said Joyce Dietrich. “She is now with a taxidermist in Brandon, and we are hoping by next year to have her in the museum. She’s going to be a portable cougar, so we can use her for education purposes and take her out to schools and other places. She’s a beautiful tan colour, like a deer.”

It all started on a fall morning in 2015, as John was out checking his traps, when he got the surprise of his life, said his wife.

“My husband is a trapper, and he traps coyotes and raccoons on our half-section, 18 miles straight south of Killarney,” said Joyce Dietrich. “It’s mostly Turtle Mountain bush, and hay land. He was out that morning in the bush, checking the trap line, and at around 10 a.m. he found the cougar, caught in a power ram snare. It was dead; it would have died quickly, shortly after the snare went around its neck. It’s very unusual to even see a cougar in this area. Who has ever seen one? Only on TV, or in a book.”

It’s also illegal to catch one, so when John Dietrich finished his trap line and got back home, he immediately called the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to report the accidental trapping.

A couple of days later, an officer with the DNR came out to pick up the animal, and the decision was made to preserve it, said Joyce.

And the cougar’s remains aren’t destined for just the museum shelves, she said.

“The cougar was taken to Brandon, to Scott Holman, a taxidermist there, for mounting,” she said. “Scott took off the skin, and sent it away for tanning. The body went to zoologist Bill Watkins, who specializes in biodiversity, in Winnipeg, for an autopsy, because it’s unusual to have a cougar in this area, and they wanted to make a record of it. And the bones are also being saved for study.”

Now the local museum has launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for the cougar’s hefty taxidermy costs.

A local group has already pitched in to help cover expenses for the big cat’s preservation.

“It will cost us $3,000 for the whole job,” said Joyce Dietrich. “The Turtle Mountain Wildlife Association has promised us $1,000 as a donation. We still need $2,000, so we have just set up a GoFundMe page on the J.A.V. David Museum’s Facebook page. There’s a link to it there, and it’s called ‘Bring the Cougar to JAV David Museum’.”

Cougars haven’t populated Manitoba since settlers exterminated them back in the late 1800s, according to records. Now they are a protected and rare species in the province, although their numbers do appear to be rising in recent years.

In North and South Dakota, cougars can be kept as pets, which could be why Watkins told the couple that their cougar visitor may have wandered onto their land from south of the border.

“Bill Watkins said that the cougar was probably from Saskatchewan, or from the States,” said Dietrich. “There was just a single set of tracks, so we think she was travelling solo. Our neighbour saw the tracks in the snow too.”

Cougars, whose Latin name is ‘Puma concolor’, are North America’s largest wildcat. They also go by the name of mountain lion, puma, panther, and catamount.

If you want to help bring home the Killarney cougar, you can donate to the cause at the J.A.V. David Museum, 414 Williams Ave, telephone number 204-523-7325 (you can leave a message), or talk to a museum board member.

There is also their GoFundMe page, or you can mail a cheque them directly at Box 584, Killarney, Manitoba, R0K 1G0. Donations of $25 or more will be receipted for tax purposes.

BEAUTIFUL COUGAR – A 107- pound female cougar was accidentally caught in November of 2015 in John Dietrich’s trap line south of Killarney. Grandchildren Emily Sims (left), age four, and her brother Logan Sims, age one, are pictured with their Grandpa, John Dietrich, admiring the beautiful creature. Cougars are extremely rare in the area, and this one is now being preserved for the local museum.


WHAT BIG PAWS, GRANDPA – This close-up photo of the paws of a female cougar, caught in one of John Dietrich’s coyote snares last fall, shows just how big they are compared to his own hand. Scientists have collected data on the unusual event, as cougars are not normally seen in the area.