Saturday, April 12, 2008

Has Lake County's Cougar Moved to Wilmette?

UPDATE: The Channel 5 Chicago News reported at about 5:25 pm on April 14, 2007 that the Chicago Police have shot and killed a cougar on the North Side. The Chicago Tribune has the story, with a photo.

Wilmette Police are reporting that this morning, April 12, 2008, they received information from four different citizens of Wilmette who believe that they saw a cougar near the El at Fourth and Linden. All the reports were in the 300 block of Third Street. Police officers investigated, but were unable to find the animal. Wilmette Police are asking residents to call 911 immediately if they believe that they see a cougar.

If you think you see the cougar do not approach it; cougars are dangerous! If you are inside, try to take a picture of it out the window so that the animal can be identified. Do not send the dog out to investigate, and keep your children and all your pets indoors. It should be noted that many other animals can be confused with cougars, and it is possible that what was sighted was a fox or a coyote, which are known to be in the general area.

It was just about two weeks ago that we reported on the Lake County cougar sightings. As a follow up, police have been unable to find any actual evidence that there is a cougar in the Lake County area.

When I did the original post on Cougars in Lake county, I found some very good information online on cougars, also known as mountain lions, and I am repeating those links here, although they apply to a more rural area than Wilmette. You might want to review this fact sheet from the United States Department of Agriculture (pdf format) for tips on living with cougars. In addition, there are several potentially livesaving tips for you, your family and your pets which you can read by clicking here. What to do if you encounter the cougar? Read this or this to be prepared. While the webpage features an annoying growl, this page on cougar do's and don'ts might be helpful.

Statistics show that a person is ten times more likely to be killed by a dog than a mountain lion, but you may want to read further about mountain lion attacks, including anecdotal evidence from 1890 to the present. Just last month a sighting of a cougar was confirmed in Wisconsin, which had been cougar-free for the last century.

While I am hoping that the animal that was spotted beats a hasty retreat, I would note that the large and healty rabbit population here in Wilmette could bring a variety of animals into the area, although cougars are particularly attracted to deer. If you live in Wilmette and think you have seen the cougar, please leave a comment.

UPDATE: CBS 2 Chicago has video of Wilmette residents describing the cougar!


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