Brett Charlton: “I was checking my trail cameras that are located throughout my property and came across this photo that was taken last Monday night.”
Jury’s still out, but Pike County cougar sighting could be state’s third in two months
Prairie State Outdoors
The jury is still out, but to most armchair (or treestand) lawyers out there, the evidence looks pretty convincing.
Eureka high school teacher and coach Brett Charlton could be the most recent Illinois hunter to capture a cougar on his trail camera if his picture is confirmed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
So far this fall, two cougar sightings have been confirmed in Illinois.
The first one was photographed Sept. 13 near Warren, just across the state line from Wisconsin.
A few weeks later, a trail camera picture taken Oct. 28 was confirmed by DNR to be a cougar.
Charlton found the image taken Nov. 6 on one of the four trail cameras he uses to monitor 60 acres of hunting property he owns between Griggsville and New Salem.
He reported his find to the Illinois Conservation Police Friday, but he will contact an Illinois Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Monday morning for confirmation.
Here is a cropped version of Charlton’s picture.
Charlton said he lives in Eureka and is only in Pike County to hunt or to run his trail cameras.
Friday night he wanted to see what was roaming his woods.
“We pulled all four cards and went back to the camper Friday night and that one popped up,” he said. “We were looking at (the picture) in our camper and we were showing these to some other guys.
“I said, ‘Surely I’m not seeing things, but sure looks like it’s a mountain lion.”
He said stories have circulated in the area about cougars.
“The neighbor said he’s seen a black panther in our creek bottom,” Charlton said. “I kind of blew it off because I thought it was just another story.”
To confirm the sighting, biologists will try to match the background of the photo to the location where it was taken.
Charlton said his wife wasn’t too thrilled to hear about the discovery.
“Hopefully it’s in Missouri by now,” he said. “I called my wife and told her and sent her a picture and now she almost doesn’t want us to go hunt down there.
“My daughter hunts with me and (my wife) panics about stuff like that.”
Charlton said he enjoys seeing the wildlife his trail cameras capture.
“I’ve got about every animal you’ve heard about in Illinois on my trail cams, with the exception of a bear,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind seeing a bear.”
It looks like Charlton might get to add a cougar to his list.
Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.
Wildlife officials have confirmed another cougar sighting in Illinois, and they speculate it may be the same animal captured on a Morgan County trail camera just after midnight Oct. 28.