Wildlife biologists to examine cougar found in Whiteside County
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[November 23, 2013]
SPRINGFIELD — Wildlife
biologists will examine the remains of a cougar found on a farm near
Morrison in rural Whiteside County in an effort to learn more about
the animal's recent history and origin, the Illinois Department of
Natural Resources announced Thursday.
An IDNR conservation police officer responded Wednesday to a
call from a Whiteside County farm owner that a large cat had
been seen exiting a cornfield, running toward the farm owner's
home and outbuildings. When the officer arrived at the farm, he
made contact with the farm owner's wife, who was in the house,
and checked a horse barn and lot where the landowner's horses
were located. The cougar was discovered in a concrete tunnel
beneath a corn crib.
After consulting with the farm owner's
wife and IDNR law enforcement and wildlife personnel, and at the
farm owner's request, it was determined that the cougar should
be euthanized. The officer dispatched the animal with his IDNR-issued
rifle. The cougar appeared to weigh more than 100 pounds and was
5 1/2 to 6 feet in length.
Wildlife biologists will take possession of the animal and
conduct a necropsy.
Cougars, also known as mountain lions, were extirpated from
Illinois before 1870 and are not protected by the Illinois
Wildlife Code. There is no evidence that a resident breeding
population exists in Illinois, but occasional transient cougars
have been found in the state in recent years, likely dispersing
from states to the west of Illinois, including South Dakota.
There were three confirmed cougars in
Illinois between 2002 and 2008. A male was killed by a train in
Randolph County in 2002. Another male was killed by a hunter in
Mercer County in 2004. A third male was shot and killed on the
north side of Chicago in 2008. Although analysis indicates these
three animals were genetically similar to mountain lions from
South Dakota, their history in the wild is uncertain.
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More recently, images taken by trail cameras in Jo Daviess County
(September 2012) and in Morgan, Pike and Calhoun counties (October
and November 2012) were confirmed by IDNR as showing a live cougar.
Given the long distances typically traveled by cougars, and the
proximity of the counties (especially Calhoun, Morgan and Pike), it
is possible that the camera images may show the same animal.
For more information on cougars, check the Living with Wildlife
in Illinois website at
Illinois Department of
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]