It's been a very active year for big cats in the tri-state area. Several Cougar sightings across Iowa and Wisconsin in the past few weeks have led to yet another Cougar sighting. This time in western and west-central parts of Illinois.

Cougar growling displaying teeth. Photographed in Minnesota USA.
Credit: JohnPitcher

In fact, the Illinois DNR said the mountain lion has traveled a long way. Apparently, researchers in Nebraska briefly caught this cougar and put a tracking collar on the big cat last year. Illinois DNR wants to remind residents that mountain lions are protected under Illinois law. That means it is illegal to hunt or harass them, unless the cats are a threat to people or property. In any instance, the authorities (State DNR) would like to be informed when a cougar is sighted.

Credit: Successful Farming
Credit: Successful Farming This map is from a 2008 study: "178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest with the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008. Approximately 62% of confirmed sightings took place within 20km of habitat that would be considered suitable for cougar populations."

Illinois DNR states that there have only been eight confirmed sightings of mountain lions in Illinois over the last 20 years, although that figure looks to be changing. Although, another mountain lion was struck and killed by a vehicle on I-88 in DeKalb County earlier this month. 

puma cougar angry Snarling
Credit: mhong84

In Iowa, big cats are not currently protected and can be "taken" at anytime. Sightings in the state have recently increased; so far though, a breeding population has not been discovered. In addition, hunting cougars in Wisconsin is prohibited, and the cats are not considered dangerous to humans.

As recently as 2 weeks ago, 2 cougar spotting's came out of Western Iowa

How about this report on KCCI out of Indianola

Credit: Indianola Police Department
Credit: Indianola Police Department

And since the big kitties are roaming through the tri-state area, it might be a good idea to know how to deal with them. You never know, this could be the year you stumble across them on a hike, a bike ride, or while hunting?

  1. DO NOT RUN! Running will stimulate the cats urge to hunt/attack you.
  2. Stand tall and make yourself BIG.
  3. Attack first. Scream loudly at the would be attacker and throw objects if necessary.
  4. Keep children and small pets close; standing between them and the cougar while slowly backing away.
  5. If attacked, fight back with a sharp object if possible, aiming for the eyes of the big cat.

Again, the DNR wants the public to report cougar sightings in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. To report one, access the large mammal observation form on the DNR's website and include details of the exact location, time, date and description of the animal. Photos of the animal or its tracks are also helpful to the agency. Place a ruler next to tracks to help provide a size reference. Biological samples (hair, scat) are also very helpful.

attachment-Tom Drake Outro


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