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Illinois hunting and fishing

All four of Illinois’ confirmed cougar sightings this fall: Clockwise from top left: Jo Daviess County, Morgan County, Pike County and Calhoun County. Photos courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Brett Charlton and Mark Cobb.

Two more cougar sightings confirmed in central Illinois

November 01, 2012 at 07:17 PM

The State Journal-Register

Two more cougar sightings have been confirmed in Pike and Calhoun counties, bringing the total to four confirmed sightings in Illinois in the past two months.

Included is one near Literberry, north of Jacksonville in Morgan County, on Oct. 28.

No one can say for sure if the sightings are of the same cat or more than one.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Tim Krumwiede verified the authenticity of the most recent trail camera photos, which were taken Nov. 6 in Pike County and Nov. 9 in Calhoun County. Both counties border the Mississippi River in west-central Illinois.

Krumwiede met with both landowners, looked at the photos on the cameras’ memory cards and in Calhoun County verified the site where the photo was taken.

“I’d bet everything I own on their authenticity,” he said. “They were two good photos — no-doubters.”

The four sightings this fall more than double the previous three verified cougar sightings in Illinois since the 1870s.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions, panthers, catamounts, painters and pumas, once ranged across most of the lower 48 states, but were driven out of Illinois more than a century ago.

Eureka high school teacher and coach Brett Charlton captured a field-guide-quality photo of a cougar on one of the four trail cameras he uses to monitor wildlife on hunting property he owns in Pike County.

Illinois hunting and fishing
Brett Charlton’s cougar photo from Pike County.

“We pulled all four cards and went back to the camper Friday night (to review them) and that one popped up,” he said. “We were looking at (the picture) in our camper and I said, ‘Surely, I’m not seeing things, but sure looks like it’s a mountain lion.’”

Charlton said stories have circulated in the area about cougars.

“The neighbor said he’s seen a black panther in our creek bottom,” he said. “I kind of blew it off because I thought it was just another story.”

Krumwiede said the cougar image in northern Calhoun County was taken near an entrance road where the landowner was having trouble with vandalism. Ironically, the photo was taken on a road named Wildcat Hollow, not far from Panther Creek.

Illinois hunting and fishing
Wildcat Hollow in northern Calhoun County gets its name honestly.

“He may have found a home from many, many years ago,” Krumwiede said.

The images all were captured at night, long after hunters should be out of the woods, but Krumwiede said DNR wants to hear from hunters who think they’ve seen cougars.

Attacks by cougars are rare. About 25 people have been killed by cougars in the United States over the past century, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Missouri has more experience with cougars, having documented 35 sightings since 1994. An article, “Living with Large Carnivores,” is available on the Missouri agency’s website.

According to the article, anyone who encounters a cougar is advised to maintain eye contact, raise arms to look bigger and back away slowly. Pick up dogs and children so they are not tempted to run.

Cougars that roam long distances are likely to be young males looking for mates.

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.

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

Hunted JEPC this weekend, by creek and have pics of paw print. Brought them home and compared to K9 vs cougar. Look like cougar, also I dont know many dogs with prints bigger than my fist

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 08:31 PM

Labs have big feet as well a Danes. Is there any claw marks. Cats dont have their claws out. Cat tracks are round while canine are more diamond shaped. Draw an X between toes 1&2 then 3&4. If the X hits the pad its cat. Type in cougar tracks in google search.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/18 at 06:25 PM

Fact of the matter is Pike County has a cougar problem. I moved here two years ago from Minnesota and have personally had five sightings myself from the dodging outside of sight in a creek bed in Barry or crossing the road in El Dara. I have also seen trail cam pictures of my fiancé and a friend of his helping a guide by setting up stands and as the trail cam in the area went off you can see two faces and yellow eyes mostly hidden in the brush not ten feet behind them.
I don’t particularly think they’re a menace to the area; but I do think we need to acknowledge that there is a small population of them in the area.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/20 at 09:15 AM

I just saw a trail cam photo of a cougar just outside of Lewistown here in Fulton Co. Not a doubt about the picture or the person providing the picture.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/21 at 12:56 PM

Cougar sighting, how can I add a picture?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/28 at 07:56 PM

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