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Illinois Outdoors

Wolves occasionally are sighted in Illinois, with two found dead in the past five years.

Wolves, cougars and otters, oh my

September 16, 2007 at 06:30 AM

Some are visitors just wandering through the state. Others are Illinois natives that had all but vanished but are back in great numbers. And, some merely may be misidentified species.

They are the Prairie State’s rare wildlife breeds, ranging from wolves and mountain lions to bobcats and river otters.

Last fall, a couple of northern Illinois residents reported seeing what they believed to be gray wolves.

“At first I thought it was a giant coyote, but it didn’t have any of the markings of a coyote. It was all gray,” said Leo Ruefer of Rockton.
Illinois Outdoors

“I’ve seen wolves at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (in Wisconsin). I really think this was a wolf. It was too big for a coyote and didn’t have the right color.”

Wisconsin and Illinois wildlife officials doubt the wolf claims, but admit it’s possible. In the past couple of years, two wolves, identified as being from Wisconsin, were killed in Illinois. A third Wisconsin wolf shot in Indiana near the Ohio border had to travel through Illinois.

Two mountain lions also have been killed in Illinois since 2001.

“We are likely to see an occasional mountain lion over time because of increasing population in the Black Hills,” said Bob Bluett, the furbearer program manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

He said mountain lions killed here have been young adult males that were likely pushed out of the Black Hills. But if no female mountain lions are in Illinois, there is no chance of establishing a population.

Another cat is doing well in Illinois and the Midwest through natural recovery. The state has an estimated 2,200 bobcats south of Illinois 64 and an increasing number north of there.

“The highest numbers are in southern Illinois,” Bluett said. “I would go so far as to call them common down there. In other parts of the state, they are increasingly common, especially along the major river systems. They have been documented statewide in all but two counties.”

Another Illinois species with a fast-growing population is the river otter.

Illinois had fewer than 100 in the 1970s before the DNR started one of its most successful reintroduction programs. The DNR released 346 otters between 1994 and 1997, and the population has ballooned to between 10,000 and 15,000 today.

The river otter and bobcat populations have grown to the stage where sportsmen are pushing for hunting and trapping seasons for the species. An attempt to establish seasons died in the Statehouse two years ago.

The DNR also receives reports of wild hogs in Fulton County and southern Illinois, however Bluett doesn’t believe their populations are steadily increasing.

He is uncertain of the hogs’ origin; they might have escaped from farms or could have been released by owners wanting to establish a wild hog population for hunting.

Wildlife officials know the origin of another relative newcomer to the state. Nine-banded armadillos have been migrating from the South to Illinois. They first were reported here as early as the 1970s. Nearly 150 sightings have been reported since 1990, mostly in southern Illinois.

The state’s southern section also is home to Illinois’ four venomous snakes — copperhead, cottonmouth, timber rattlesnake and massasauga.

However, some people believe they see them elsewhere in the state, especially the extremely rare massasauga.

Chris Phillips, herpetologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, said people get excited when they see a snake that looks like a massasauga.

“Unfortunately, the fox snake and several other snakes vibrate their naked tails when disturbed,” he said. “If they are in leaves or in the garage near cardboard boxes, it can make a sound. And people just jump to the conclusion that if they heard the rattle it must have been a rattlesnake.”

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Well I am truely unsure of what type of wildlife is all around us,or could be with in the near future.However, I belive strongly no matter what and where this is good. Fear is good as well. I don’t belive a person should have fear, respect would be alittle more needed. These animals have the same rights as we do, remember they were here before us. We can live side by side if we (humans) give the animal the thought and respect the animal is owed.Step back in time, and remember we humans created this land from blood,sweat & tears. We were blessed by being able to relate this to others, because we are human. However nobody hears the animals cry,then, now and yes the future.We enslaved the horse,other equines and many other types of large animals to help do all this. This land was seen and carved from the backs of these animals.I am sure not one of them walked up to a human and said, enslave me to do your work, to better your life. Nope, we just took what we wanted and broke the spirit. These animals were easy, because they fall under the flight policy. Flight not fight. Now wolves, big cats,ect…..Not so easy. So that has to be bad. Not really, this shows a much bigger picture. The will to live in freedom.Now we humans have moved right into the home of these animals, never once knocking. Stealing what is and was theirs. Now, if somebody did that to you, you wuold figt back.And we call them animals….LOL! Animals have given so much to us, we never ask. We eat and wear them every day….It’s not like the got up on the grill,table,ect and said,EAT ME!No I don’t want an animal to hurt/kill a person and not one of my human family members. But I know I have made a home in the backyard of the wildlifes home. So I need to respect that, and pay special attention to try to insure I don’t over step the door.I have had and still do have animals. Mustangs,turtles,a older wolf(Had many years-14) plus other “normal” animals. I have always had animals. Never trouble. My wolves past and now have always been the best w/my family. Yes they are “wild animals” yet we have to remember all animals came from some where.Some of the “family pets” we dote on are so inbred and crossbred they are just mean. Not too mention the way they are treated.So knowing how and why wild life is the way it is, do you really belive these animals can live and stay in some plot we gave to them. Which the truth is, “WE TOOK IT FROM THEM,FIRST”.....So when they branch out & off this land, they are trying to live as GOD attended. I am sure they don’t get up every day or night & say, I think I will go HUNT HUMANS! Unlike we do! I am in support of hunting, culling of the animals is much needed to keep numbers at what the land can keep, no hunger,ect. But,kill out of fear & greed is murder! Two sides to all stories.We all have our own thoughts on this, in noway am I out to bash any person, because I know there is good & bad as well as 2 sides to all stories. I know the system of life isn’t always fare. But, we humans kill animals and yes each other. Sometimes for fun, greed,ect. In these actions(most/high %) of humans don’t pay a high enough fate, any fate. I will have to say human kills human, well depends on all things involved, what the fate will be. Human kills animal out of what ever, or abuse,ect. the person 99.9% get a tap on the wrist if anything.Now don’t do it again. Animal walks in or near humans w/out permission when we see permission is fit, 99.9% of time the animal will be killed and hung on display. “Great 5:oo clock news” pat the killer on the back, and stay now it’s safer….please….There was a time in EastLiverpool,OHIO the EastLiverpool P.D. shot and killed a baby(little one) black bear who strayed away and climbed a phone pole out of fear. I would bet a human had gotten that animal and it escaped/turnned loose or what ever. Now that baby never seen even birthday #1. Real killer in a very youg bear,turnned tail up a phone poll….. Took a real big man to kill that bear, NOT! So I belive people need to take a deep look @ the big picture. Check out some web sites on how animals are done. It will sadden the heart. Remember the find may not be able to be seen by children, be readyfor anything. It can get quite sad…. Try some easy one, like wildhorse rescue,ect. The slaughter houses are unreal. Yep, 99.9% of animals seen in pictures/videos are “Very Much ALIVE!” As the bolt 99.9% of time only stuns the animal, it’s the throat slash and gutting that kills them. Sometimes the anaimal gets a punch in, kick from rear leg that was left loose while the other leg is hoisted up to hang animal to be gutted, alive. Last I checked equines are flight not fight. So we humans kill them anyways for profit! If humans are cruel enough to do this, no animal will ever be truely safe. Not to mention, pregnant aniamls are not even left off the list. So at a days end at slaughters day, seeing a pile of unborn animals is very likely. So the next time you see a deer at graze, hear a wolf howl just know you have been blessed, for that same animal that gave you a wonderful gift to feel free, his days are most likely numbered.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/12 at 11:28 PM

is it really true that cougers ar populating in illinois

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 11:54 PM

I am wanting to contact private landowners who have wild hog problems.                                          .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/15 at 10:46 PM

I thought I saw a wolf on the side of highway 50 in Richland County.  Southern IL

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/28 at 07:11 PM

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