ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WCIA) — Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials announced the mountain lion was killed on Interstate 88 in Dekalb County on Sunday. The animal was then transferred by the Illinois State Police to an IDNR wildlife biologist before arriving at U of I.
IDNR experts believe it may be the same mountain lion that was captured on a trail camera on private property in Whiteside County in late September and confirmed by wildlife biologists from IDNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
IDNR is also monitoring another mountain lion reported in western Illinois in early October.
Mountain lions were eliminated from Illinois prior to the 1870s due to habitat loss and overharvest. Although extremely rare in Illinois, mountain lion sightings have been confirmed in Illinois during the past few decades consisting of younger animals, typically originating from a population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
For readers concerned that they may encounter a mountain lion in the wild, the U.S. Forest Service has provided the following tips to survive:
- If you spot a mountain lion and the animal is unaware of you, alter your route so that you will move away from its area.
- Never approach a mountain lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens.
- Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation. Always give them a way to escape.
- Do not run. Remain calm. Hold your ground or back away slowly.
- Continue facing the mountain lion, and maintain eye contact.
- Do all you can to appear larger; Stand upright, raise your arms, raise your walking stick, and open your jacket.
- If you have small children or pets with you, try to pick them up without turning away or bending over.
- Never bend over or crouch down, avoid looking like a four-legged prey animal. Again, Do not bend over to pick up a rock or stick off the ground. This action may trigger a pounce response in a mountain lion.
- If the lion behaves aggressively, wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice, and throw objects like the water bottle in your hand. The goal is to convince it that you are not prey and may be dangerous yourself.
- Try to remain standing to protect your head and neck.
- If attacked, fight back!! Use rocks, jackets, sticks to turn away the mountain lions.
- Report any mountain lion encounters