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Cougar reported near Galesburg

November 06, 2009 at 03:31 PM

Galesburg Register-Mail

GALESBURG—When Perry McFarland looked out his window around 7:30 yesterday morning, a glimpse of something caught his eye. In the grassy knoll behind his fence, about 650 feet from his sun room window, a large animal pounced like a cat. He grabbed his binoculars for a closer look and determined the animal must be a cougar. His wife ran to the window. She spotted another one. McFarland called the Knox County Sheriff’s department, which transferred him to animal control.

Police Department Conservation Officer Darin Pitchford said he received the call from McFarland, who lives about six miles north of Galeburg just off of U.S. 150, but could not confirm that the animals were cougars.

“Some of the things don’t add up,” he said. McFarland reported that he saw two cougars, but Pitchford said traditionally cougars are solitary animals that do not live in pairs even during mating season.

He said the department typically doesn’t respond to cougar sightings, unless they receive a picture, which they’ll pass on to a biologist. He said there were some cougar sightings in 1999 around Lake Bracken, but none of those were able to be confirmed.

McFarland said he also called his neighbors Robin and Stephen Podwojski who live closer to where the cougars were. Robin Podwojski said she and her 13-year-old son, who was home sick from school, spotted the cougars as well. Intrigued, they decided to drive over to see them up close. Podwojski drove about 50 yards from the cougars before they decided to turn back. She said the animals were about the size of a large dog, tan in color and had a long tail.

Both she and the McFarlands searched on the Internet for pictures of cougars to make sure it wasn’t a bobcat or another animal.

“I have no doubt what it was,” Podwojski said. “It was definitely a cougar.”

Sara Mackey, a naturalist for the Prairie Wildlife State Park, said that it’s possible cougars are moving back to Illinois, after being reportedly leaving the area during the late 1800s.

“We definitely have a food supply for them here with all the white-tailed deer,” she said.

She said cougars are not a threat to humans and that there is no cause for concern.

Cougars “don’t have many predators out there except for humans so they have a natural fear of humans,” she said. “For the most part cougars stay away from humans.”

Only if someone is face to face with a cougar would they be in danger, she said. Otherwise, assuming there is large enough of a food source — and there is in Illinois, with all the deer — that people should have no reason to fear for their own safety or even their pets’.

Mackey added that cougars typically weigh between 100 to 200 lbs. She said she has not heard of any recent reported cougar sighting. There was one sighting earlier this year, but analysis of the animal’s tracks showed that it was a large dog, not a cougar.

A report from Prairie State Outdoors said that there were two sightings of large, cat-like animals in July in Henry County, directly above Knox County. The Department of Natural Resources and the Henry County Police Department were unable to verify the report.

Illinois’ last verified wild cougar was shot in Roscoe Village, a north-side Chicago neighborhood. The 122-pound male cougar traveled an estimated 950 miles from South Dakota. Cougars were found dead in 2004 in Mercer County and in Randolph County in 2000. Before that, the last cougar sighting recorded in Illinois was in Alexander County in 1862.

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

Relax. Anything that eats poodles and joggers can’t be all bad.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/06 at 04:00 PM

did they have blonde or brunette hair and were they about 40 years old cuz im a 27/m looking to get mauled lol

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/06 at 05:15 PM

It’s true that cougars are usually solitary but young cougars will stay together after being pushed out by their mother.  I saw a pair ouf cougars on a forest road in Montana a few years back.  These might be young dispersers who are related.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/09 at 11:06 AM

Here’s my problem with this.  I’m not a cougar conspiracy theorist, so I don’t believe that cougars are being released/re-introduced by the State, CIA, etc. and I have seen photos that were purported cougars that were anything but, but I know what a cougar looks like and I have to assume that if I believe that I could positively identify a cougar and not mistake a lab, bobcat, housecat, etc. for a cougar then many other folks could do the same.  It bothers me that if I were to call and report a sighting that I would be doubted, discredited, maybe even chastised if I didn’t have an unmistakable photo.  After just experiencing my local DNR agent taking three days to show up and do his job I wouldn’t appreciate being questioned. If I say I saw a cougar you might want to check into it, huh?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/09 at 08:18 PM

Here is the way that i would take control of this encounter with a cougar. I would shoot the cat and then take a snap shot of it and then show it to our conservation police man.Problem then solved ?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 08:41 PM

Brdchaser: You have hit on the very reason that most outdoors persons will not report spotting a cougar in Illinois.  You are automatically branded a liar because you did not: (1) take a picture of it, (2) cast a track of it, or (3) kill it and produce the carcass for the “scientists” to study.  Those, unfortunately are the only “sightings” that are currently being accepted as an actual cougar sighting. There have been something like over 260 cougar “sightings” and telephone reports in Southern Illinois in the last five years, according to one well known cougar researcher.  However, almost all of those “sightings” have been discredited because they do not meet the “Standard” for a cougar sighting.  Do you remember the bear sightings last year?  They were followed up with pictures and instant credibility.  The bear was captured by IDNR and that was the end of the bear.  Nobody has “taken” a cougar in Illinois, or, at least has not claimed to have taken a cougar in Illinois.  That is the problem with reporting a cougar sighting without killing and turning in a carcass.  I have had biologists in Illinois that dispute the fact that a research biologist in Missouri actually captured a picture of a cougar on his trail camera last year.  All of the local T.V. stations ran the picture on their news reports when it happened and they interviewed the biologist.  It was just across the Mississippi River from Illinois, and it is not too much a stretch of the imagination for a cougar to cross one of the river bridges at night.  One has to wonder why IDNR is so deadset against admitting that there are cougars in Illinois, even though the public continues to report sighting them.  Why would anyone in their right mind bother calling and reporting seeing a cougar in their back yard, unless they actually saw a cougar!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 08:49 PM

Well said Goosehunter!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 08:50 PM

Thank you BigD

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/12 at 05:53 PM

Sara Mackey should read more of the reports from out west where these animals have been reloacted? Humans have been the prey of choice of Pumas(cougars) for sevral years, now, in these areas.

Posted by S.B. on 11/13 at 08:41 AM

All the more reason Illinois should enact concealed carry laws here?

Posted by S.B. on 11/13 at 08:42 AM

Shoot first is always the best answer.  Kill it then let God sort it out. 

There are a zillion mountain lions in the country that don’t pose a threat to people and all you dopes can think of is kill it so no one doubts your story?  I think the DNR knows damn well that there are moutain lions around but don’t want to deal with the implications for having to manage them.  That would be another cost that they can’t cover.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/13 at 10:34 AM

You’re a bit of a troll, so I am reluctant to respond to you, but in this case, I need to say, “I didn’t say that.”  I’m quite happy to take my chances amongst any predators that happen to make their way into Illinois.  Folks out west have been dealing with natural predators for years. So can we once we get used to the idea.  Will I shoot if it need be? Sure, but I wouldn’t shoot bigfoot unless I had to.  I will be sure to take a picture first, though, if I’m going to report it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/13 at 12:14 PM

Yeah I guess I am a bit of a troll around here.  I found this site just a few months ago and love to read about hunting and fishing in our state.  I fish but have never been hunting although I have absolutely no problem with it.  I enjoy watching hunting shows on TV even with my small kids. 
I have a different point of view than many on this board and think it’s ok to share it.  My comment above was over the top but I don’t think it’s any more over the top than saying that Goose would shoot it for no reason other than saying “look I told you so”.  Frankly, I don’t think that most people around here would want to live with mountain lions around.  There just really isn’t that much space without people around.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/13 at 01:57 PM

SPICOLI wrote;
“I think the DNR knows damn well that there are moutain lions around but don’t want to deal with the implications for having to manage them.  That would be another cost that they can’t cover.”

Hit the nail on the head, right there.
They’re here. Regardless of what the DNR says, or requires as “proof”.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/13 at 11:06 PM

i would be more apt to believe a cougar sighting if the guy who saw it wasn’t the same guy who see’s 200 inch deer from his stand every year, catches seven pound smallmouth from a stream that doesn’t produce even two pound smallmouth for anybody else. did i mention that there is never any pictures. now this same guy reports seeing a cougar! have you noticed most of the sightings of exotic stuff in your area is by the same guy? i have no idea why the dnr is in denial about cougars. it is logical that there are a few here, but i don’t see them being a problem.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/21 at 08:34 AM

Cougars in Illinois… what?? Why is it such a big deal? They’ve been in Illinois for years; probably never left.

They keep to themselves and help keep the exploding deer population in check.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/12 at 02:44 PM

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