Illinois Mountain Lion Hit, Killed By Car In Dekalb County
You may be wondering why a mountain lion would see fit to hang around in one of the nation's flattest states (like I did). When the highest point in the entire state of Illinois is something like 12 feet above sea level (Charles Mound, Illinois's highest point, is actually 1,235 feet), you've got to wonder what the appeal is.
Does it help to know that mountain lions are also known as "cougars?" Probably not, but the bottom line is that Illinois indeed does have mountain lions in the state, and that fact was proven last Sunday night.
According To The Illinois Department Of Natural Resources (IDNR), It Is "Very Rare" For A Mountain Lion To Pose A Threat To People Or Property
Maybe it's just my interpretation, but "very rare" to me means that there's still a chance of having an unbelievably unpleasant encounter with one. Plus, when it comes to mountain lion encounters, I'm really not very concerned with what a mountain lion will do to my property. My jugular vein, I'm concerned about.
WildlifeIllinois.org says that between 2002 and 2019, there have been four cougar carcasses confirmed in the state:
A cougar was killed by a train in Randolph County in 2002. Another was killed by a bow hunter in Mercer County in 2004. A third cougar (male) was shot and killed in the Roscoe Village neighborhood in Chicago in April 2008. The fourth was killed by Illinois Conservation Police at a farmstead in Whiteside County. All were sub-adult (2 tp 3 year old) males. DNA analysis indicates these four animals were genetically similar to cougars from South Dakota and strongly suggests that these are all wild males dispersing from that western population.
Since 2015, Mountain Lions Have Been Protected In Illinois
Obviously that protection does not extend to motor vehicles on a high-traffic roadway, like Illinois' I-88 in Dekalb County. That's where a mountain lion's trek through Illinois came to an end on Sunday night.
The IDNR says that the animal was transferred by the Illinois State Police to an IDNR wildlife biologist and has been delivered to the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana for a full necropsy and DNA analysis.
IDNR is monitoring another mountain lion reported in western Illinois in early October. This animal has a GPS collar that was originally attached in November 2021 by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) as part of an ongoing research project on their mountain lion population, including movement patterns.