Addresses Recent Internet Rumors of Cougars in Illinois
Being Circulated Claiming to Be Taken in Illinois Are Actually From
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[February 09, 2008]
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is addressing recent
Internet rumors claiming photographic evidence of cougars in
Illinois. These photos are being falsely identified as being taken
in Illinois -- in many cases claiming to be taken near Findlay in
Shelby County. The photos are real but appear to have been taken in
2001 or 2002 in Lander, Wyo., where cougars are common. The Internet
rumors have been circulating throughout Illinois via e-mail and
usually misidentify the location of the photos.
"While it is not completely impossible for a cougar to be found in
Illinois, sighting of a wild one is highly unlikely," said Acting
IDNR Director Sam Flood. "Wild cougars have been found in
neighboring states, but again, very, very rarely."
addressed rumors sometimes mentioned in these hoax e-mails that the
Department of Natural Resources is releasing these animals into the
"It is absolutely not true that the Illinois Department of
Natural Resources is releasing cougars anywhere in the state for any
reason," Flood said.
Below are links that may help avoid
confusion about the validity of these photographs. One is a link to
a site devoted to correcting Internet rumors, and the other is a
link to a report by a Missouri Department of Conservation biologist,
which also addresses the origins of these photos.
[to top of second column]
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources urges people who
have been sent photos of cougars claiming to have been taken in
Illinois to compare them with ones found in the links above.
While the Department of Natural Resources does investigate
several alleged cougar sightings each year, most if not all turn out
to be a case of mistaken identity. The animals most often mistaken
for cougars are coyotes, bobcats, or large domestic dogs or cats.
Actual cougar sightings in Illinois are few and far between. The
last cougar found in Illinois was in December of 2004 in Mercer
County. It was found already dead, apparently shot with an arrow.
Another cougar was found dead after it was hit by a train in
Randolph County in July of 2000. Prior to 2000, the last verified
record of a cougar in Illinois was from Alexander County in 1862.
Department of Natural Resources news release received from the
Illinois Office of Communication and Information]