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Local Cougar Sightings
There are a few sightings that occured in 2004 but were posted in early 2005 at the end of the 2005 sightings
Jackson Co., IL
23 December 2004
I am friends with your sister, Nancy. She didn't tell me you had a collection of cougar sightings. I did announce at photo club that I had seen one in Sept. at our property outside of Ava. It pawed through our fire ring and left a print on a brick which I did bring inside. Unfortunately, I was painting the deck at the time and did not have a camera in hand. Before I could go to the car to grab one, it had left. Our property adjoins forest service land and Little Kinkaid Creek.
Pope County, Illinois
14 December 2004
Jim, you haven't heard from me in over a year. August 2003 was my last cougar sighting. Since that time, I am sure - the cougar is no longer in my area.
I think the cougar was shot and buried.
I'll relate my story - the best I recall it.
One year ago at Christmas time I was in the local Wal-Mart talking to the ladies in the hunting dept. Everyone greets me with "seen any cougars lately"? My reply "not since August". We talked about cougars, they got busy and a man was standing there and he said to me "you won't see it anymore - it's gone." I said "oh, I hadn't heard that." He said "it was after my cattle and I took care of it." He then said "if this ever happens to you, shoot it, bury it and keep your mouth shut."
I was so taken - I shrugged my shoulders and walked away. At first, I thought it was just some reckneck bragging - but as time went by and I thought about what he said - I think he killed it.
I wish I would have talked to him and asked what it was doing to his cattle - killing them? chasing them? what? Also, how did he know that was the same cougar I saw - I didn't say where I lived.
He seemed to have known me - but I don't ever remember seeing him - before or since.
I've gone through more than a year - with everything normal here. Cat & dog are normal - no unusual barking or hiding and all through last winter, no tracks.
So, until the next time, I don't have any cougars!!
I lost track of Virgil Smith - so if you hear from him, let him know my cougar is gone.
Macon Co., IL
13 December 2004
Several years ago I subscribed to the Pike Press Newspaper located in Pittsfield Il. At the time Wayne Bauman or Baumann wrote outdoor columns for them. In this particular issue was a column about a big cat which was photographed by a trail camera setup by a friend of Wayne's. I kept the column but can't locate it. I have searched the web and can find anything about this "sighting."
As I remember the camera was setup on property owned by Bauman north of Pittsfield. It was a very clear photo and undeniably a mountain lion.
The best I can remember this would have been a year or two prior to the Randolph County cat being found along the RR in Southern Illinois.
Another incident occurred a few years ago on the Il. River south of Peoria. This incident involved some duck hunters from the Decatur, IL. area. After loading their boat for a hunt before dawn one of them had to return to their vehicle for a forgotten item. His Labrador accompanied him. The short of this is they encountered a young mountain lion and there was a confrontation of some sort. The hunters gun was in the boat with his friends therefore this encounter was not ended immediately. Again I forget some of the details but the story continued with the cat jumping into the boat with the hunters friends. No one was injured and the cat departed the area. I lost track of the story which didn't attract a lot attention at the time. I believe this cat was captured later that day or that week but the final outcome of the incident I never heard.............Just a couple for you to go after........
BRAD BROWN, Decatur IL.
11 December 04
Calloway Co., KY
I read with interest the Vantreese story about you. You are right about cougars on the comeback. I have seen two cougars in LBL [The Land Between the Lakes]. One was in the clear and about 20 yards from me. The other was a little further and in the woods but I had a good look at it. Both sightings were within two miles of each other and were seen while turkey hunting in the spring. The first sighting was appox 25 years ago and the last one was probably 4 or 5 years later. I have talked with others, including TVA eployees of LBL, who also have seen cougars. Why do the various state game and fish departmens deny the existance of cougars when there are so many reputable eyewitness that they do exist in this part of the country, even though their numbers may be low?
When I asked for more information, Mr. Craven sent this follow-up e-mail. Ed.
I have checked with our friends as to our sightings and can report to you the following: We have seen a cougar at these dates and locations. All of these sightings were within a few miles of Lat. 35.58 N, Lon. 88.11 W.
These cougars have been sighted crossing the roads. One was in the pounce position on the side of the roadway. Their color has varied from brownish gray to a dark possibly brown-black color.
Hope this helps. We will report any further sittings.
Johnson County, IL
30 November 2004
I live just South of New Burnside in Johnson Co Illinois.
In the past 10 years I and my family have heard what we have been told are cougar or bobcat screams in the late afternoon and early evening at our domicile coming from the wooded areas.
I saw a bobcat crossing rt45 one mile south of New Burnside into a corn field around 7:00 am this summer 2004.
About 3 years ago I saw a black panther slink across a one lane gravel road, our driveway.
It was at least 6 feet long from head to tail and was keeping low to the ground about a foot to top of back.
He disappeared into the hay field fence line. I did not try to follow it. To scary for me.
This was in the as I recall late summer and in the mid afternoon.
There seems to be a long history of wild cats in this area.
Ball teams have bobcats as their mascot. There is a cat-skin festival, I assume wild cats.
There are stories of wild cats at Shady Nook area on rt45 North of New Burnside as well.
19 October, 2004
I have been doing some reading about mountain lions and panthers in the Midwest and enjoyed your articles. I have written a story about part of my childhood in southeast Missouri and it is entitled, "The Panthers Of Southeast Missouri" The short story is located at this link on my web site: http://home.comcast.net/~pilgrimjim/panthers.htm
Williamson County, Illinois
29 November 2004
My buddy spotted a cougar while we were hunting on his property three weeks ago. It passed by his stand at 30 yards and was as silent as could be! It was about 140lbs and about 6 feet long. The neighbors have seen a cat on the property in the past, and we have seen prints before, but this was the first sighting by us. Told the DNR when we checked in deer, but they were not interested. I have a Masters in Zoology, and I saw prints and my buddy described the cat and it's description was cougar! The property is a large tract of unbroken hardwoods and it is about 8 miles from the Shawnee. They are back!
(no spaces) Fishboycorky @ aol.com
24 November 2004
I am from Albert Lea, Minnesota. I read your article telling of many sightings of Cougar in Illinois. I just thought you would like to know that there are several sightings of cougar in Minnesota, too. My daughter lives in North Mankato, Minnesota and she had an encounter with a large cougar on October 16, 2004. It was reported to the DNR and local police and subsequently aired on the local television station, on the radio and the subject of front page articles for two editions of the Mankato Free Press.
Since the public has been made aware of the latest sighting...there have been many reports in the same area within the past year or so. In the news articles were stories from a vet that treated a horse for "large cat" injuries and a farmer is losing several sheep...and the size and depth of the footprints indicated a cat that was in the 200 or more lb. size. When my daughter explained the sound that the cat made while being growled at and stared down by her German Shepherd....he believed her. It was a sound that she said didn't sound like a typical sound that she would link up with a cat. The DNR said that it was the sound that the cougar would make if it thinks that it's in danger...and with the dog there....he maybe thought he was. There are indications that a female with three juvenile cats and a very large male have been seen in the general vicinity. I realize that without pictures or videos ...it is hard to prove just what they have seen. If you are at all interested ....I can send you the articles from the newspaper.
My daughter does not wish for the cats to be killed or hurt in any way...but does want the public to know that they are around and not to make themselves too vulnerable.
I just thought that maybe you would be interested for your records.
Albert Lea, Minnesota
(no spaces) mikkaren @ deskmedia.com
Washington County, Indiana
11 November 2004
My name is Jerry Hurst. I live in Borden, In. Recently I was walking and saw what I believe to be a cougar. I was about 300 yds. from it but my eyesight is pretty good.
After talking to people in the area I don't believe I'm crazy.
Christian County, Illinois
November 17, 2004
I would like to add Christian County to your list of mountain lion/cougar sightings. It happened yesterday, November 16th, 2004 in Pana, Illinois at 1:30 PM. We live on the very edge of town with a Hike trail bordering our property. There is a 10 acre hay field directly behind and adjacent to our property. My Mother lives on the other edge of the hay field also in a residential area of town. Yesterday she came over to our house visibly shaken. She had spotted a very large cougar on the edge of the field bordering the hike trail. She got out her high powered binoculars and examined the cat thoroughly. It was very light in color with a very long tail, pointed ears and the face of a cougar, and the size of a small deer. We proceeded to go to where it was hoping to get a photo, but the animal had gone back into the woods. We phoned the police and they contacted animal control. Upon further inspection of the area a fresh deer kill was found on the very spot my Mother had seen the cougar. After even more investigation 2 gentleman and a lady who live at the beginning of the hike trail had spotted the animal last year and failed to report it, because their relatives told them they were "crazy". They corroborated the description of the cougar and its massive size. They informed us that they never returned for a picture because they were frightened by the size of the animal. Even more evidence has surfaced this afternoon from neighbors. We learned that in January two horses were attacked in a pasture that borders the hay field. They had wounds consistent with a cougar attack, puncture wounds and one horse was ripped open from the base of it's neck down to the rib cage. Both animals survived the attack, but the owner is sure a large cat was the culprit. The police informed us that this is the 4th or 5th report that they have had on this (or these) animals in our area. This afternoon we installed a motion detector, deer camera to the area at the back of the hay field. If we get any documentation of the animal, I will forward the pictures. In the meantime, please add Christian County Illinois to your sighting list.
[Ed. Note - we were very excited to hear of a possible cougar kill site in Illinois. Alas it was not to be. These sites are very distinctive and if found early enough are diagnostic for cougar presence - and are considered strong evidence in favor of the presence of cougars - almost as strong as an actual cat itself. So to that end we've contacted a wildlife expert at SIU-C who has promised to drop us a line about what to look for. We're hoping to hear from him soon...]
Henry County, Illinois
14 November 2004
My name is Patrick Nelson and I have a few questions concerning the habits of wild cats. Also these questions are due to an instance that happened on the night of November 13 at around ten o'clock at night.
Two of my friends and myself were out raccoon hunting and while we were out in one of my friend's fields we noticed a larger animal around 100 to 150 yards in distance away. My friend was taking aim at the animal thinking that it was a coyote when the other individual shone a light in the direction of fire. Through the scope my friend said he saw a large animal that he could tell was not a coyote and then decided to only continue to observe. The animal then stopped and looked around as if to see were the light was coming from.
When the animal looked in our direction my friend said that it had a green reflection in the eyes and it appeared to stand up then after it looked in our direction and it seemed to lay down and disappear.
Now I'm sure that you're wondering what I mean by stand up. I don't mean literally on its rear legs; it was more like it raised up from a stalking position to see the light better. And also whether it means anything or not I believe if it was a cat of some kind that it may have been stalking a deer that we had scared out of hiding when we arrived in the field and the animal in question was following the same path and direction that the deer had taken. We know this because we also observed the deer take the path while we were in about the same position for both instances. We are not sure what we saw but a wild cat of some kind is about the only logical option that we could think of.
Now my first question is what kind of cats are known to be in this part of the state? We were near Andover, Illinois which is about fifteen minutes south of Moline, Illinois. Second is what are the most common prey for wild cats and would it be able to take down a buck of decent size? We are not sure of the size of the buck that I stated previously but could tell it was decent size. Third is what are the normal times of the day that wild cats are out? Like I stated earlier it was around ten at night when we sighted the animal. My fourth question I'm not too sure if it will have any bearing at all but I was wondering that if certain animals had a certain color that was reflected from their eyes or if their was no specific color to type of animal. If you could answer these questioned and send them back at the same email address it would be appreciated. Also if you have any thoughts please feel free to state them and if you have any questions for me please feel free to ask. I will have no objection to answering them.
Thank you for your time
We responded to Patrick's questions with the following reply:
In answer to your questions - they are:
Hope this helps answer your questions.
Thanks for your report!
[Ed. Note - anyone with more experience concerning cougar eyeshine is encouraged to share it with us here at the website!]
12 November 2004
The Lynwood Cougar is still unconfirmed. At a talk in Grayslake, SIU biologist Clay Nielsen discussed the issue of cougars in the Chicago area, concluding that it was possible for a young male to pass through but unlikely for cougars to re-establish themsleves due to lack of suitable habitat.
As reported in The News Sun Online, Cougars from Black Hills?
Schuyler County, Illinois
14 November 2004
My name is Carolynn Benninghoff
I live in Rushville, in Schuyler County, IL.
We recently found a pine tree with significant scrapings on the side, about 2 1/2 to 3 feet high at the top. (We have seen many deer rubbings and these are different.) The bark was rather shredded in places and the wood had "claw" marks/grooves in it. My research suggests that this might be the scent post for a bobcat, that cougars do not leave scent posts? There have been many unconfirmed sightings of cougars in Illinois and some may be valid. Any info you might pass along would be appreciated.
[Ed. Note: we told Carolynn that she had probably found a bobcat scent post as she suspected.]
Williamson County, Illinois
November 14, 2004
Just read about the Almanac in the DE. [Daily Egyptian newspaper] today and am planning to buy a copy this weekend! Meanwhile, I do have a question for you ...
My friend and I (on separate occasions) observed a large 'kiwi-like' bird at Giant City State Park. Although we weren't together either time, after comparing notes, it seems we may have seen the same kind of bird. It is rather large - about the size of a bantam chicken and dove gray/brown in color with a slightly curved black beak - kind of like a kiwi. Any ideas? I've searched internet sites for pictures, but I can't seem to find any information. Thanks!
P.S. Also, wanted to let you know that a security guard - who arrives very early in the morning - where my husband works, spotted a cougar on two separate occasions on Wolf Creek Road - near Carterville. This happened several months ago - probably last spring. Janada
[Ed. Note: We helped Janada identify her "kiwi". It turned out to be an American Woodcock.]
Saline County, Illinois
November 9, 2004
I live north of Galatia. I have had quite a few run-ins with cougars. My girlfriend and I were on the way home from work about 5:30 in the evening; still daylight. We all but hit one with my truck at Harrisburg Lake turn-off. It was tan, it covered half of the highway plus a 3 or 4 foot tail. We both saw this in broad daylight less than 5 feet from us. I have had other encounters but even within a few feet of one you still only see glimpses. Did you know one can have a territory of 270 mile radius? I think they mostly travel large creeks. You can contact me at(no spaces) mefab21 @ americasown.net.
Greene County, Illinois
November 9, 2004
I found your website as soon as I returned from my deer hunting trip this weekend. I saw a large cat around 10:45 am walking along a grassy field edge on our property. I have seen plenty of deer, coyotes, wild turkeys etc but nothing like this. I was approximately 400 yards from it and I noticed the shoulder muscles first and the long tail. At first I thought it was a coyote until I grabbed my binoculars and took a closer look. It had to be a cougar or mountain lion of some sort. It looked just like the cougar photos you have on your site. We have an abundance of wildlife on our farm and some have even seen tracks in creek beds that we cannot identify. This seems to match with your travel theories for the cats. We still have plenty of deer hunting to go, so our entire hunting party will be on the lookout for more sightings. We are going back to see if there are any tracks as it was rainy last night and we might be able to see something. Greene county Illinois near Roodhouse.
Cook County, Illinois
October 23, 2004
I was so glad to see your Websight with an e-mail address. Last March 2004, I watched a large tan cat with a black long tail and black teddy bear like ears walk into and through my backyard on a cold, rainy, dark, late afternoon. That started a fiasco! I called the police, then animal control and then it went into high gear with the Media. We were on the news television, papers, etc. We live in Antioch, Illinois. I saw this animal Mid March. I KNEW it was a lion of some sorts. I watched it for about 5 minutes. We have a field and trees behind our property. My neighbor and husband spotted many footprints. They were cast [in plaster] by my neighbor. DNR, Animal Control and what seemed like too many people came out to investigate. We had a hunter and help stationing out the back for weeks. Behind our land is a property housed with many horses, 2 kangaroos, wallabies, pheasants, buffalo, a camel and who knows what else. It didn't seem to be too illogical for this cat to want to roam so close to this property. After much research, these hunters found scat and what seemed to be spraying along this property owner's fence line. 3 weeks after I had seen this large animal, my neighbor behind me saw it too in the early morning. He was just as startled as I was! First the reaction of disbelief, then fear, then frankly disbelief! Yet, we both are highly educated people and know we weren't fooled. (Especially, mind you, we live in Northern Illinois which is area noted for hunting and much wild life such as coyote, fox, deer. We know this was fact.
The reason I am writing you is because I saw your e-mails and locations of sightings. We hope you could add this to your list. If you want to check validity, go back to all the local papers and news at that time. ie...Chicago Tribune, Daily Harold, Antioch News, News Sun, Pioneer Press. This was also on Channel 2, 5, 7 and 9. All during the Months of March and April. What we had found to be sooooo frusterating and exhausting is that we know we saw this animal distinctly, yet DNR could not confirm. Then the papers turned around and stated it was possible coyote. We still have the castings. After having so many people here investigating, NO ONE seemed doubtful, yet because there was no confirmation, it was passed over. This is discouraging. We have 4 young children and animals. Although we live more openly in the back and with the houses being on a few acres each, it just seemed unsettling that it was brushed off at that time. This was very real.
My husband and I have most recently heard on the news that there was another sighting in Lynwood, Illinois. It is our hope that someone captures a photo. (Although we know only too well how difficult that is).
Thank you for your websight. We hope this will educate people and open their eyes to reality. I wish more people could view this websight including DNR and the media. We will leave that to your discretion.
God bless you for all your hard work!
Patti & Steve Klodzinski
Union County, IllinoisOctober 7, 2004
Today I was looking on the web for information on cougars because of what I saw yesterday. I was so glad to find your site and have to share with you what I saw.
Yesterday I picked my five year old daughter up from Cobden school ( as I do everyday at three o'clock) and driving the few miles home to Alto Pass, West on Skyline Drive, heading up the hill just before the "scenic viewing area" for Bald Knob Cross, a BEAUTIFUL cougar stepped out in front of my car. Crossing the road right in front of us and slipped into the tree line at the other side. It was in no hurry just steady pace, never turning to look at me, but I saw it. It was not early dawn with low light, It was not dusk evening with low light, It was not a glimpse, the sun was not in my eyes. I SAW this cougar FULLY. There is no doubt as to what I saw. The color was a gray/yellowish like the dead grass in the yards right now, a low color gold. Its tail was so long, like as long as its body and curved at the end with four maybe five more inches held just off the ground. I was so close and saw it for so long that I also saw there was no collar, no bright tag, just plain animal. It was not as big a cougar as the male at Free Again Wildlife rescue, But it was close. (Do you know of this place? It is local.) It was so grand seeing this animal! But I was reluctant to tell anyone for fear they would not believe me. Cougars are not supposed to be here! Well, I now know different, They are. I am so pleased that my two kids (five year old daughter, eleven year old son) and I saw that cougar. We were given a special gift yesterday.
So my husband goes to the local bar in Cobden and tells a couple friends of his what I saw and you know what? One of them tells him that sometime back they found one of their calves dead, hanging in a tree. He lives in Cobden.
Well, anyway, regaurdless of what the conservationists say, I know what I saw. Thank you for having the web site. It was fun sharing "my" cougar with you:)
[Ed. Note: in our response to Lori's report we asked her to ask around and see if there were any other sightings in the area. A few days later she responded with the following message...]
Union County, Illinois
October 10, 2004
I have gotten brave enough to ask a few people I know about cougar sightings. And so here is the list:
One of the police officers for the village of Cobden says that they get reports from people quite often of seeing big cats, and that he himself have seen them while hunting. He said "If anyone tells you that they are not here, they don't know what they are talking about, or they just don't want you to know they are here for some reason or another." Said a friend of his called him one morning to come look at something he had found out back behind his barn. This officer said it was no doubt big cat tracks....not bobcat big, bigger.
Matt at Rendelman Orchards on Rt.127 when I asked him if they had ever had any cougar sightings said yes that his dad stood in a field of theirs and watched one cross the ridge on the back of their property. That would be just almost straight south through the woods and fields from where we saw "our cougar."
Hope you find this interesting and will send you more as I hear if you like. thanks,
Williamson County, IllinoisSeptember 15, 2004
I'm Darcy from Carbondale. I came upon your site reading the Peoria Journal Star article from May of this year. I just wanted to report my own cougar sighting that occurred roughly six years ago (I know it was before the Menard incident and I wish I would have recorded the exact date.) But late one night I was driving south on 148 from route 13 and there on the side of the road was a wonder to my eyes! A huge thing that I at first tried to fit into the dog category and racked my brain to make sense of it. I ran through the standard fox, domestic dog, coyote, and I even thought of a wolf (knowing there were none around here that I knew of at least...although I'd heard about the attempt to re-populate the Missouri Bootheel with wolves and know that isn't far away). I thought about a bobcat and just knew this thing was way too huge to be that. It was crossing the road going to the wildlife refuge. probably trying to get a nice juicy deer. And I even thought about it being a hyena (given I had seen round ears and face and had a sleek curved tail and frankly nothing else had made sense. And of course, I knew I was on the wrong continent for it to be a hyena!) But I was desperate to make sense of it. Until I spoke to my then-boyfriend who lives by Devils Kitchen and had described seeing the same thing as I had. The next day I phone the cougar researcher Virgil Smith from Harrisburg. Interestingly I had seen his name and contact information the following day on a news piece about cougars. He stated that he could confrim my boyfriend's sighting and had followed one of these big cats down the Little Grassy spillway just 3 days before. Ever since then I've been excited about cougars and have shared my story with many others, even if they thought I was crazy or at the very least mistaken. But I DO know exactly what I saw and don't care if anyone else believes me or not!
I enjoyed your site. Did I see your almanac for sale at the Boardwalk in Makanda? Do you happen to know where I could find out about recent, nearby sightings?
P.S. I also think I may have seen 2 Coy-Dogs in Central Illinois. Do you know much about coydogs or where I could find more information on them?
We received the following flurry of e-mails from Norm in Chicago following the Lynnwood sightings:
Cook County, IllinoisSeptember 18, 2004
- By Jo Napolitano / Tribune staff reporter
"Lynwood residents say they enjoy sharing their quiet neighborhood with suburban wildlife like deer and rabbits, but reports of a 60- to 75-pound cat lurking in the area have left them unnerved. Police Chief David S. Palmer said he fielded five calls from..."
September 18, 2004
New report of Lynwood cougar on web.
4pm, 9/17/04. I just heard on CLTV (Chicagoland TV) there was a large cat sighting in Lynwood Illinois. They issued a warning. They said the police tried to capture it and it ran off to a nearby forest preserve. They described the cat as 75# and being brown/golden in color.
Cook County, IllinoisSeptember 18, 2004
A reader called our attention to a story on a possible cougar sighting in Lynwood Il.
Lynwood is a community in the Chicago area. Although Lynwood is a residential area, it is just a few blocks from a nature preserve that harbors a number of deer and other wildlife.
A "tan catlike animal of about 60 to 75 pounds" has been sighted by a number of reputable witnesses, including a police officer. It was unclear at the time the story was posted if the cat is indeed a cougar, and if so it remains to be seen if it is a wild cougar or an escaped captive.
Police are hoping to trap the animal and are attempting to avoid killing it.
Hopkins County, Kentucky
September 14, 2004
I'm trying to find out if there have been any reports of cougar sightings in Western Kentucky, specifically in the Hopkins County area. My family and I believe that we have spotted two individual cougars. One is very large and black. The other is smaller (about 100 lbs. or so), similar in size to a medium size dog. It appeared to be reddish brown. We live in a very wooded area. We have heard the telling "screaming" sound on more than one occasion. The larger black one appears to be about 150 lbs. and has been spotted twice by me. Once it was coming out of a swampy area and appeared to have a fish in its mouth. It crossed directly in front of my car and I actually had to stop the car. The eyes appeared to be a greenish gray. The second time the two appeared together and came out of a graveyard, and crossed in front of our vehicle. Large bobtails, and even a couple of lynx have been killed as trophies in this area. There was about a 5 mile difference between the sightings. Is this possible? When my children tried to discuss this in class, the teachers told them that they had wild imaginations. Also saying that cougars haven't been seen in this area in about 75 years and that it's impossible for them to live here today. I do not think that this is correct. Other people in this area have stated seeing big cats like this also, but in a period of the last 30 years. IS THIS POSSIBLE? I don't think that my mind or eyes have been playing tricks on me. We live in St. Charles, KY. Population 400. We are close to Christian County. Would you please give me your expert opinion at your earliest convenience? I would truly appreciate it.
Williamson County, Illinois
September 13, 2004
I would like to report a possible cougar sighting in Williamson County, IL last night, September 12, 2004. I was driving home from Carterville on the Herrin/Colp Road just past what used to be Allen's Industrial Park. It was approaching 8:00 pm so it was dark. Suddenly a large animal ran across the road in front of me. I would guess it to have been about 10 to 20 ft in front of me. This animal was the fastest moving thing I've ever seen on 4 legs...it was running at top speed and never even turned to look at my headlights approaching. It was very large, the only thing I have to compare it to is my Rottweiler...lt was at least as tall and long as Bubba, a mature male (he's between 140 and 150 Ibs, pretty tall too, even for a Rott). This animal was not as bulky, though, I would guess between 75 and 90 Ibs. It was light in color, with a lighter belly. In the dark it was impossible to tell if it was gray or tan. It had a tail that was at least as long as its body and sleek, not long fur like a fox or coyote. A fox or coyote wouldn't have been anywhere near as large and I've seen plenty of fox and coyote and would not have any trouble recognizing those. What surprised me was the way it ran, like a cat, not a dog or deer. I've seen lots of deer in my headlights, too and there is no way it was anything but a cat of some type. I was very surprised to see such an animal so close to Herrin! What do you think?
Lisa Martin, Zeigler, IL
Kankakee County, Illinois
My name is Tim Annis. I live in Bourbonnais, Illinois. I have a special needs daughter and walk her daily in the Kankakee River State Park. Yesterday, 7/1/04 around 5:00pm I saw a cougar walking on the trail. As soon as it saw me, it immediately headed into the ditch between the trail and the road. I have no idea where it went from there. I immediately got back into my van with my daughter and went to the campground 1 mile east and reported what I saw. I know this was a cougar, and after reading your webpage feel it is possible that a cougar could be in this area. We have abundant deer in this area as well as good cover. Interestingly, I noticed that all of the wheat farmers in our area were cutting down their wheat yesterday. The cat I saw had coloring that perfectly matches wheat. I wonder if their cutting disturbed its local habitat and had him on the "prowl?"
The trail I saw this animal on is a 10.5 bike trail that begins at Davis Creek and runs west. There is a big campground at mile marker 8.5 and I normally walk my daughter one mile west of that. There is a small parking lot where I start our walks. This is where I saw the cat. My concern is that many campers do allow their small children to both walk and bike ride this trail by themselves.
The animal I saw was around 100 pounds, very sleek and actually very beautiful. I have no reason to fabricate this story and thought you might like to add this to your list of sightings.
DeKalb County, Missouri
I found your website very interesting. I'm located in Dekalb County in Missouri and I'm having a problem with finding information regarding mountain lions. I just recently had a horse attacked by some type of animal in which the animal appeared to have jumped on its back (several scratch marks are indicated) and there is about a eight inch diameter piece of skin missing from the horse's neck. I called my local conservation agent and after seeing the horse he replied that the animal couldn't have been attacked by a cougar because it has a very high percentage (80%) rate of killing efficiency. He gave the explanation of the horse got caught in the fence (but there were no markings on the horses legs), got attacked by a pack of wild dogs, or it rolled over on something. This horse is very tore up. I'm concerned and I want to find out what did this. There have been recent sightings of a cougar in the area (about five miles, we found this out after the attack.) I'm basically looking for an expert that could determine whether or not a cougar could be the cause of this attack. I'm willing to take pictures of the animal and e-mail them. I just need to be either reassured of the conservation agents determination or whether I need to be more cautious while being on our land especially with my young son. Please email me back and let me know if you have any helpful information or suggestions. Thank you for your time and for your helpful website.
Hamilton County, Illinois
At about 5:54 this evening, as I was driving along a country road going from the Broughton black top to the Dale road, I saw a young cougar. It was alone, running across a bridge. At the other end of the bridge, it jumped into a ditch. It was about the size of a large fox, and was alone. I was maybe ten feet from it so there is no mistaking what I saw.
Cook County, Illinois
I saw an interesting cat the other day. I was at a forest preserve on the edge of Cook County near East Dundee & Hoffman Estates. I can only describe it as being much bigger than a domestic cat. Initially it appeared to resemble a small coyote or large fox. However as it approached, it became quite clear that it was a cat, both in movements and in features. My guess would be in the 20 to 30# range with a height greater than a foot and a half. It was solid charcoal gray (not exactly black), with no other markings, with a long tail. The odd part was this was around noon, and the cat walked right past my car. I did quite a bit of searching on-line looking at cat breeds, both domestic and wild, but haven't been able to identify it accurately. I'll see if I can somehow find this animal again, and photograph it. I haven't ruled out an escaped or released exotic, as we had kangaroos (wallabies maybe) hopping around the same area a couple years ago. Just thought I'd pass this along to you,
Cook County, Illinois
I live near 87th Avenue and 127th Street, in Palos Park, Illinois, that is unincorporated Cook County. My home is situated near forest preserves, as well as wooded train and Commonwealth Edison easements. Last fall I spotted a fawn colored cat perched on the top of my back yard trash bin. It gave me a fright since it was at least 4 feet or more in length and too large to be a domestic cat. When the cat saw me it leapt in the air and ran into the woods.
I saw a Tribune article today about Cougars here in Illinois, and I realized the cat I saw was a Cougar. I told my family last fall about seeing the cat but no one has else reported seeing it. Is there a danger to us and should we take any precautions? We don't see our neighbors often, but I will ask if anyone else has seen this creature.
Tom Courtney, Sr.
Johnson County, Illinois
... I have owned a 100 acre parcel of property in Johnson County, Illinois since 1973... On Thursday, March 11, 2004 (at almost exactly midnight) my brother and I drove from Chicago to the family farm located just east of state Route 147 about 6 miles from Vienna, in Johnson County. We were within 1.5 miles of our farm, going northeast on Rte. 147 when a large animal ran across the road in front of my car from his side (the right side of the auto) to mine (the drivers side). The animal was a large cat. It was more than four (-4-) feet long, with an additional three (-3-) foot tail. It was about twenty-four (-24-) inches high at the top of the shoulder. It did not "run" exactly . It jumped or "bounded" across the road in the headlights of the car. It crossed the road in several large leaps and paused for less than a second on the shoulder of Rte. 147 on my side of the car. I then observed it take a large bound and disappear into the darkness beyond the headlight glare.
This cat was golden-brown in color (almost identical to my Viszla hunting dog - who is pale by the standards of his breed). The tail of this cat was round and thick. There is no question but that it was a cat. We firmly believe that it was a cougar.
All of this occurred only about two (-2-) miles from the several thousand acres of the Vienna Correctional Center, which is near our place. The general habitat of the area is heavily wooded with a dense deer population (we plant food plots for deer and turkey) and much small game. Two years ago, while hunting, I watched a bobcat hunt for about 1/2 hour. I know what a bobcat is and how big they are. This was no bobcat. This animal was significantly bigger (though not as tall) than my hunting dog which weighs 61 pounds.
Some people don't believe us. Others do. Add this one to your list.
You may want to contact the Department of Corrections employee responsible for overseeing all of the outdoor premises at the Vienna Correctional Center. I am told that he claims to have multiple (10 or more) sightings of a cougar in the prison-owned forest over several years.
Jefferson County, Indiana
My name is Oliver Humphrey and I wanted to tell you that I live in Madison, Indiana. I was coming home from work one day and was looking over in an open field looking for turkeys and I saw what I new was a cougar. I only saw it for about 30 seconds before it went back into the heavy weeds and woods. I haven't seen it or another one since but I know what I saw. It was very close to an residential area and was concerned about the kids around there. But I have kept this to my self because I didn't want people to think I was crazy. I told my son about it and his mom works at the state mental hospital and she told him that the there has been one sighted on those grounds also. My other son said that he had heard from three other sightings had been told to him. ...
I thank you so much and would appreciate if you could let me know if my eyes were really seeing what they told me.
With this added, 05/06/04
... And you ask where the other sightings were and my son thought they where in Cannan [Canaan], Indiana. It is pretty remote in that area and a lot of deer and game for them to eat. I have thought with the return of the deer here that the big cats and wolves would return in just a matter of time, and then I saw the cougar...
Jasper County, Illinois
I checked Google for cougar sightings in Illinois, and came across your site. A friend's husband was telling me about several different events involving cougars near Bagota, IL. I was naturally concerned since I ride a bicycle, and they have been known to stalk cyclists.
Hamilton County, Illinois
Have you heard anything about cougars being released in Hamilton County?
I was wondering because I heard stories a while back, maybe 3 years ago. And tonight I saw something on Rt. 14 and the only thing I can identify it to be is a cougar. ..maybe I've just got an overactive imagination. :T
Alexander County, Illinois
A few days before Christmas 2000, my boss and I were traveling north on Highway 3 out of Cairo. A few hundred yards north of Cache Diversion on the right (east side of the road) there was a very large cougar with a thick long tail. I figured it was an animal that had gotten loose from a circus or zoo truck.
After asking around, I found that many people had seen these animals around these river bottoms
Someone told me that a few neutered animals were let loose by the conservation dept.
I like to hunt morel mushrooms around this area, and coming up on one of these big cats would make me quit that hobby.
Fulton County, Arkansas
I stumbled across this website tonight while doing some research on big cats (cougars, mountain lions) or whatever they are called, in the state of Arkansas. Was just curious if anybody ever reported seeing them here in north central Arkansas. I have personally never seen one myself, but was fishing by myself today on a very large tract of land mostly wooded and grown up, not been any livestock on it in many years, and stumble across a tree that had been clawed, first thought it was a deer rub, till I got closer and really looked at it I could see were something had literally buried its claws in the tree, and just tore down the side of it. definitely not a deer rub..claw marks were very wide and deep, in a hardwood tree. I do a quite a bit of deer hunting, and I have never seen anything like that. it could of been a bear not sure... Anyway I was telling my mother about it, and she said she seen one of those "big cats" right in front of her house less than a month ago standing in the road...she said her dog was barking in a way she never heard before and the dog was right up against her front door on the porch. Couple years ago my neighbors watched two of those big cats run across their open field (2 big cats running together) We live in Fulton county Arkansas few miles south of Viola.. Just thought whoever runs this site might want to check up with north Arkansas population of big cats the Arkansas game and fish may deny it but we have definitely got em around... We now have enough bears in the area that we have a legal season to hunt them so the big cats may be getting thicker around here also...like I said earlier, I didn't personally see the cat but my mother did, and she not gonna just make it up...she said the cat was real dark brown, with very long tail...
Calhoun County, Illinois
I read an article in the Hardin, Illinois, weekly newspaper that indicates that there have been two sightings of a panther (perhaps black cougar) in the town of Hardin. Judging from the text of the article, I am concerned that someone there may not realize the importance of this animal and may kill it. Being concerned, I called the Conservation Dept. in nearby Alton, IL, and was told that it was legal to kill the animal if it was on the property of the killer. As I said, I am very concerned and need advice as to what steps to take to inform the people and to save the life of the animal. I can scan the article and email it to you. Hardin is located in Calhoun County and is very rural and isolated since it lies between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Many of the people living there don't realize the value of the wild.
Cook County, Illinois
February 14, 2004
(This was e-mailed to us by our friends at the Eastern Puma Research Network)
Dear Eastern Puma Research Network,
I found your e-mail address after an internet search tonight because I was certain that I saw a cougar in Elk Grove Village tonight, and I know that I know that it WAS, in fact, a cougar! So, I have to tell somebody! I didn't know we had mountain lions in our area. Elk Grove Village, Illinois is in the northwest suburban area of the Chicagoland suburbs. There is a very large forest preserve called Busse Woods there. It was pre-dusk, approximately 4:45 p.m. We were driving eastbound on Illinois 72/Higgins Road. With the snow brightening up the visibility in the forest area, I could clearly see about 7 deer on the south side of the road.. .my passenger's side. The deer were "at attention" focusing east. I continued to look in the forest as we travelled to look for more deer. But instead of a deer, I saw clearly the oversized cat...thick, long tail...coat similarly colored to the deer...and large head! Not a coyote (they are common in our area)! Not a deer! I was astounded as I saw him...he was a cougar!!!! Sure enough!!! Magnificent! He was hunting...head low...stalking. Probably on the scent of the deer, I'm sure. If we'd had more time, my husband would've turned around so he could be a witness to what I saw. But, that's not an easy area to safely turn around nor stop alongside the road. Too much traffic. Plus...that probably wouldn't be a wise thing to do in respect to the cougar!
Busse Woods is a highly human-populated forest preserve in the warmer months. I don't know if I should report my sighting to anyone (and who?.. I don't know!)...or should I let nature be nature? I hope that you can reply to my e-mail soon. I will not tell anyone else until I hear from you. As a Northern Illinois resident for most of my 40+ years...this is a first for me! I'm thrilled, a bit spooked, and yet in awe.
Thank you for your time -
Name withheld by request
Lake County, Illinois
At 5:30 PM today, February 8, 2003, we were traveling southbound on the 294 tollway just over the Wisconsin border in Illinois. Near Buckley Road, we sighted what appeared to be a cougar standing at the edge of a wooded area a distance from the tollway. Earlier up 294 we had seen several small groups of deer feeding along the tollway, which is not unusual, but were shocked and stunned when we saw what we think was a cougar just a few miles further. Our daughter lives in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, and we saw a cougar in a wooded area near her suburban home last summer but never expected to see one here!
We were wondering if there have been any other sightings in this area or anywhere in northern Illinois or southern Wisconsin.
William and Patricia Jason
With this addition, 02/13/04
Just thought you'd be interested in knowing...The Lake Co Illinois Animal control just called me and asked me some questions because they have had several other sightings in the past 2 days.
Lake County, Illinois
Schuyler/Adams Counties, Illinois
In regards to cougar sightings in illinois. i have one.
I am a union laborer and was working in adams county near lima illinois in the late summer of 1995 when coming back from ursa on my break i was approaching a small bridge over bear creek when a half grown cougar ran out in front of my truck. it was less than 30 yards away and had a long tail that was definitely a cougar tail. i am an avid outdoorsman and watch a lot of nature shows and read a lot of books and know what i saw. when i mentioned this to the state rep on the job he informed me illinois has been turning them loose a few at a time to help curb the deer population. the area in which we were working is not heavily populated and is near bear creek access and park which is along the mississippi and quite wild. there is no doubt in my mind they are out there. in schuyler county where i live we have had two or three sightings in the past couple years. we are about 40 miles tops cross country from the area mentioned.
Shannon County, Missouri
My son and I were on a float trip at Current river in Missouri a couple of years ago. It was early morning about 7:30 a.m. and we were being transported as far up as we could get, Baptist camp I believe. We saw a cougar cross the road about 20 yards in front of us. It was very dark brown and was darker on top with the tail almost black. The older driver said it must be a bobcat, I've seen those and they don't have 4 foot tails. I think he didn't want us telling anyone for fear of people being alarmed and losing revenue on canoe rentals. Anyway it was a beautiful sight and made the trip for us.
Terry Whipple (Southern Illinois)
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