Another cougar in Illinois?
Anyone who spots a large, cat-like animal near Henry should call the police department at (309) 364-3933.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources also has a Web site for unusual wildlife reports at http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/wildlife/sightings.cfm
Two recent sightings of a large, cat-like animal have caught the attention of police officers in Henry.
The Henry Police Department is investigating the reports, both of which came from a residential area on the north edge of town.
“We’ve had a couple sightings of a cat or a large animal that appeared to be a cat anyway,” said Jay Young, chief of police in Henry. “The conservation people in the Department of Natural Resources are not confirming what we’ve seen so far nor are we confirming it.
“The thing that bothers me about it is the people reporting it are very credible. These are people you have to put some credence in what they are seeing.”
Young said the first report was two weeks ago and the second came Tuesday evening. One sighting was in an alley off the 1000 to 1100 block of Edward Street and came from a police officer who asked not to be named.
In the wake of those reports, officers searched unsuccessfully for evidence of a large cat.
“We combed that area the other day and looked at ground that did not have vegetation and we did not see tracks of any kind,” Young said.
Sightings of cougars, also known as mountain lions, have increased in Illinois and nationwide over the past decade.
That includes Tazewell County, where two big-cat encounters were reported in May near Caterpillar Inc.‘s 2,550-acre Peoria Proving Grounds.
Illinois’ last verified wild cougar was a 122-pound male shot April 14, 2008, in an alley in Roscoe Village, a north-side Chicago neighborhood. That cat wandered an estimated 950 miles from South Dakota. Cougars have previously been found dead in 2004 in Mercer County and in 2000 in Randolph County. Prior to that the last recorded cougar was from 1862 in Alexander County.