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Illinois DNR debunks cougar claim

February 07, 2008 at 08:54 PM

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is addressing recent internet rumors claiming photographic evidence of cougars in Illinois. These photos are being falsely identified as being taken in Illinois – in many cases claiming to be taken near Findlay in Shelby County. The photos are real, but appear to have been taken in 2001 or 2002 in Lander, Wyoming where cougars are common. The Internet rumors have been circulating throughout Illinois via email and usually misidentify the location of the photos.

“While it is not completely impossible for a cougar to be found in Illinois, sighting of a wild one is highly unlikely,” said Acting IDNR Director Sam Flood. “Wild cougars have been found in neighboring states but again, very, very rarely.”

Flood also addressed rumors sometimes mentioned in these hoax emails that the IDNR is releasing these animals into the Illinois ecosystem.

“It is absolutely not true that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is releasing cougars anywhere in the state for any reason,” Flood said.

Below are a few links that may help avoid confusion about the validity of these photographs. One is a link to a website devoted to correcting internet rumors, and the other is a link to a report by a Missouri Department of Conservation biologist which also addresses the origins of these photos.

Urban Legends

Cougar Hysteria

The IDNR urges people who have been sent photos of cougars claiming to have been taken in Illinois to compare them with ones found in the links above.

While the IDNR does investigate several alleged cougar sightings each year, most if not all turn out to be a case of mistaken identity. The animals most often mistaken for cougars are coyotes, bobcats, or large domestic dogs or cats.

Actual cougar sightings in Illinois are few and far between. The last cougar found in Illinois was in December of 2004 in Mercer County. It was found already dead, apparently shot with an arrow. Another cougar was found dead after it was hit by a train in Randolph County in July of 2000. Prior to 2000, the last verified record of a cougar in Illinois was from Alexander County in 1862.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I think anything is possible whereas my father and I last night seen a bobcat in Cook county.  In the forest preserve area in Willow Springs.  Has any ever heard of a cat there.  We are dead certain it belonged to the cat family.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/01 at 01:44 PM

Yes and we got a picture of a very large cat with pointy ears, in our back yard in unincorporated Burr Ridge across from the forest preserves in Willow Springs. Near the old Santa Fa Speedway.  Has anyone else seen one near here?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/05 at 08:24 PM

Ok now we all cant be nuts , and seeing I know my big cats along with sum domestic cats I can say I have personaly seen one ,Returning home from an evenings out ride my fince and I spotted a cougar in the woods in Cook County . Lagrange road is prime spot for food source . And I must say I had to pinch my self ! Just think 130lbs-150lbs of pure beauty in its natural suroundings how wonder full ,or not ? Well can we eveor get along or will we drive all the natural wonders away ?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/13 at 12:04 AM

I saw one this morning.  I don’t care if anyone believes it or not.  It was a big yellow beautiful cat that ran away quickly from the other side of the creek I was walking along and I’m glad to have seen one up close and not in a cage.  It was amazing.  I hope to stumble across him again.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/29 at 09:13 AM

I was heading east on Archer Road coming through Willow Springs, just past the community center before the road splits into two lanes and the speed limit goes up to 45. It was approximately 11:20pm I was heading home from work (BNSF RR) I saw a big cat dart across the road (south to north)in front of the car that was in front of me. Couldn’t make out any coloring but this was no house cat and too big to be a bobcat. I tried to get the gals attention at the light on 79th & 88th ave. to ask her about it was but she was too busy talking on her cell phone.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/07 at 09:11 PM

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