Hunters and government biologists searching for explanations after unusual sounds recorded in forests of north-western Ontario
A series of howls and shrieks recorded in the Canadian wilderness have left a hunter and government biologists searching for explanations.
Gino Meekis was out hunting grouse with his wife and grandson in the forests of north-western Ontario – more than 50km from the closest town – when they heard a series of eerie noises in the distance.
“When it let out the first scream, I thought it was a moose, but my mind changed when it screamed again and again,” Meekis told Vice.
A resident of Sioux Lookout, Meekis is an avid hunter and has grown accustomed to the sights and sounds of the region. Moose, black bears and wolves are relatively common sights in the backcountry.
“I’ve heard many different animals in the wild but nothing like this. I grew up hunting with my grandfather for the first 12 years of my life,” he said.
The howls initially came from the distance but soon they appeared to move much closer, said Meekis.
“We could hear it moving … it sounded kind of heavy,” Meekis told CTV News. “But my wife, she got scared … picked up [our grandson] and started walking fast towards the vehicle.”
As the group retreated, Meekis pulled out his phone and began recording the howls as well as his grandson trying to mimic them.
The video, since posted to YouTube, has received more than half a million views. Some speculated the sounds could come from a grizzly bear. While the species has never been documented in the region, a recent study found their range is dramatically larger than originally thought.
Others speculated it could be a large wolf.
But the footage also prompted speculation that it offered evidence of the Sasquatch (also known as Bigfoot) or Wendigo, two legendary cryptids said to roam the hinterlands of Canada. The latter, a figure from Indigenous folklore, is considered to be a malevolent spirit that can induce psychosis.
Biologists with Ontario’s ministry of resources and forestry are skeptical that the sounds come from an unidentified specifies – but also admit they are not certain of the source, said spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski in an emailed statement to media.
“Our biologists say it could be a larger mammal – for example a wolf – but because it’s a considerable distance from the recorder there is no way to know for sure.”