Monday, April 14, 2008

"Wilmette put on Cougar alert"


This is the headline on page 3 of the Chicago Tribune Metro section today. The cougar has traveled 20 miles south into Wilmette, Illinois. These sitings are only about 3 miles east of my home. According to the Chicago Tribune(author Alexa Aguilar), the cougar was reported 2 WEEKS ago, in North Chicago, so I misunderstood when I posted in this blog yesterday.

"Wilmette police said they received 4 reports Saturday morning of a cougar in the 300 block of 3rd street near the CTA station."

The "CTA" stands for "Chicago Transit System" -an elevated train that travels from Wilmette down to the Chicago and all around all over Chicago in many directions, including out to Midway and O'Hare International Airports. This is a heavily populated suburban area! The train tracks are weedy and overgrown in lots of stretches, so I can see this being used as an wildlife trail way. I will say if the cougar continues along this CTA trail, he/she will wind up in downtown Chicago!

The cougar could go west and go down into the Chicago River canal, where deer, and many other wildlife live. Unfortunately the river meanders into heavily populated areas also, and boating/canoeing season starts next month also. Traveling the River takes one down into Chicago downtown proper too. Or if it really traveled very late at night, it could wind up in the forest preserves. The best place in my opinion would be for the cougar to somehow go several miles westward and get into the Des Plaines River and the many thousands of Forest Preserve acres there. Still, many of the forest preserves in the Cook County area are only 1/2 mile to 1 mile wide, and bordered by heavily human populated areas.

The Chicago Tribune says that 2 wild cougar sitings have been "verified" before since 1862, one in 2004 in Mercer County, and in 2000 when a train killed a male cougar in Randolph County. However, since I've been conversing on the Internet about this topic, I have found that there have been many more sitings...just not verified by the authorities who as I mentioned yesterday, have not declared the cougar "exists" in Illinois. Antioch Illinois for one had several Cougar reports in the past also.

"In January, a trapper in a Wisconsin town 25 miles from the Illinois border came face to face with a big cat that fled into the woods. Officials tested the blood the animal left behind and confirmed it was a cougar," reports the Tribune.

I leave you with some scary but awesome photo submissions from www.outdooroddities.com


This is from a guy out in Mason, TX. (94 miles north of Bandera)."Mountain Lion on Rear Porch" photos were taken from his kitchen door onto his deck this last January when it snowed. The cat was watching his little kids playing on the kitchen floor. It is not a pet.

I want that cougar to live so badly. Its future seems doomed to live a free and wild life

9 comments:

SEWphisticate said...

wow! great photographs. scary to think what the cougar would do the little ones if given the chance.

i want that cougar to live too. i hope the authorities can capture it humanely and take it some place safe.

woolies said...

I live in Tucson, AZ, and on the front page of the newspaper yesterday there was a picture of a mountain lion (cougar) lounging on somebody's deck. We regularly see bobcat and coyote - not quite as fearsome as the cougar!

jessicajane said...

poor babe, i hope it makes it ok, whever it may be going. id be afraid some idiot would try to trap it or hurt it somehow.

Urban Woodswalker said...

Trapping it is better than the DNR or Animal Control euthanizing it.
They would feel it has lost its fear of humans, so often times dangerous animals are killed instead. :-(

It it travels 20 more miles southward, it will definately be in Chicago. The city limits are only about 15 miles away.

Merlin said...

"The animals of the planet are in desperate peril... Without free animal life I believe we will lose the spiritual equivalent of oxygen."

— Alice Walker

Claudia said...

Too bad that Earth Day is fast approaching and something like this needs to happen. Habitat destruction is a serious problem and has been around as a problem for much longer than the so-talked-about Global Warming (Bears in Canada, alligators in Florida, cougars, etc). Sad that is "sort of" easy to curb global warming, but, as you said, we can't really "make" more habitat...We can only hope that this sad event will raise awareness in some (it only takes a few strongly determined people) to try to change this! Let's celebrate Earth Day by actually DOING something!

Happy Crafting said...

Wow if I saw a cougar on my back porch I'd panic. I don't know if I'd takes it's picture or run out the front door.

SARA said...

that has got to be someone's pet that they dumped. That poor cat wants to come in warm up. Couldn't see a cougar hanging around like that unless it was domesticated

Urban Woodswalker said...

Sara, I believe I wrote somewhere in this series of cougar posts that the DNA showed the cougar was a wild cat from South Dakota. There have been cougars cited in Wisc, Minn, Wis., Kansas, Mo.

Biologists say that the cougars that are "pets" come from the south and southwest. It is not difficult at all to note cougars travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to establish a new territory. Its easy enough for wild animals to follow in darkness of night along railroad tracks, streams, and woodlands.

Through DNA blood tracking this cougar has been proven to be the same one found up in southeast Wisconsin last year.

A wild wolf traveled through Wisconsin, through Chicago's and on to Indiana where it was finally hit by a car and killed. The DNA tracked it to a wolf pack in Northern Wisconsin.

Cougars are indeed reclaiming the eastern part of the USA. As they mature, they are forced out of their home territories.