Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

Civet cat? Or cat? You make the call

July 18, 2010 at 02:31 PM

At first Jim Miller thought the funny-looking critter roaming in the driveway of his Dunlap home was a red fox.

“The first good sighting took place when about 10 p.m. one evening our cats called attention to an animal on our driveway dimly illuminated by exterior lights,” Miller wrote. “It was on its belly facing the garage door about 20 feet from the garage. I thought it might be a red fox and Jayne thought maybe a grey fox, but niether one of us was convinced.”

A few days later his wife Jayne saw an unusual critter stalking something in their backyard. She took two quick pictures of an animal with a cat-like body, a ringed tail and a fox-like face.

Some crazy hybrid? Maybe. Or maybe the critter was a ringtail, a cousin of the raccoon that’s native to the southwest U.S. and is also known as a civet cat.

That would be a very unusual sighting, since the closest their normal range extends is to east-central Kansas. Did a ringtail roam? Or did somebody release a pet they no longer wanted to feed? Hard to say. One thing the Millers are sure of is that their resident chipmunks are suddenly in short supply.

Incidentally, civet cats were once used to control rodents in mines, earning them the name Miner’s Cat.

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