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Jim died on the Ides of March, 2007, of lung cancer.
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The Almanac was the love of his life (after myself!) and I will do my best to update the site regularly again beginning in April. The cougar section may take me more time to bring up-to-date, as he had fallen behind on it while devoting his energies to researching Weird Egypt in the last two active years of his life.
Local Cougar Sightings
Monroe County, Illinois
I found your site and wish I would have found it 4 years ago! I have seen a "black panther" 3 times. I live in Monroe County, just outside Columbia, IL. The first time I saw it I was letting the dogs out at 5am and there it was on the other side of the fenced in my yard sitting under a tree just watching the dogs. The dogs didn't notice it, but I did. I just watched it and the panther ran along the fence and dove under a pine tree and I couldn't see it at that point. I went out the front and around the side of the house so I was on the outside of the fence and got close to the tree where I last saw him/her and looked closely but couldn't see anything under or in the tree. The next sighting was shortly after the first (about 2 weeks). Again he was sitting under the first tree looking at the dogs and I ran around the front and to the side of the house and he/she was looking at the dogs and didn't notice me running up on him/her. I got 10 feet away and he turned and saw me coming and ran away. Then I KNEW what it was for sure because I got so close. I'm not sure what I thought I was going to do if it would have just stood there but I was afraid it was going to get my dogs. It ran too fast for me and about a month after that we saw it at the back of our property just walking and it wandered away. We called the DNR but they said there were no such animals in this area. I told them I would shoot it if I saw it again and they said if I shoot it, then to call them (what, like I want a fine for shooting a wild animal?). But I would at least have proof that they exist. Only my husband and I saw it. We haven't seen it since but I have heard other people in our county talk about seeing them out near where I live. There's an abandoned quarry with rocks and caves and lots of wildlife so it would be perfect for them to live there. Don't know if I would be getting on anyones property by going back in the quarry and just sitting and watching to see if I come across anything. I saw in the paper where a bobcat was hit in our county and then there was a story in the Belleville paper a couple weeks ago about sightings and a Highland, IL family has a video of a cougar in their back yard and then the other day a police man video taped a cougar from his squad car. They put it on the news so it was nice to see evidence. However all the scientists will say is that they are pets that people are turning loose. I don't believe that. I think they are migrating back OR the DNR are turning them loose to control the deer population.
Ed. Note: tina, K.W., Melissa, and several others have brought up the legal status of these animals ... For a newly revised and expanded Legal Status report see the FAQs page.
Ouachita County, Arkansas
Enjoy your website very much. I am a security guard at a Millsite in Camden AR. A couple of months ago a co-worker and I each spotted a large black cat while doing our patrols. The one I saw was aprox the size of a small Labrador Retriever. It was blacker than anything I have ever seen! And the tail was very long. I am new to the area and altho my father had told me about hearing cougars scream in the night when he was a young boy in S. Arkansas, I had never heard of a black one until I began talking about my sighting. People either say they don't exist here, or rarely they will say they have seen one or know someone who has. Is there a management agency we should contact to report these sightings?
Sawyer County Wisconsin
I thought you might like to know that I had a cougar kill in my ‘backyard' last fall. It was just after sunset, and I could barely see. I heard some deer out by the feeding station, so I snuck out there to see what I could see. I was hungry for a deer burger! As I was approaching, the deer (est. of 4) startled and ran back away from me. Within seconds, I heard a loud snarl and ‘thump'. The next morning I went back for a look and found a young doe dead and heavily chewed upon. It took about a week for the cat and various helpers to finish it off. An interesting experiment in taphonomy. The previous summer I saw a few of its tracks on the forest path. That fall. I took many deer, and a number of times it was waiting on the edge of the cooking fire light for the carcass. After taking my portion, I lugged the carcass away from the fire and the cat would haul it away quickly. Apparently, it moved into the area 2 years ago, and now my property is on it's route.
Also, I now have a short tailed weasel (ermine) living nearby. The mouse population has dropped by at least 90%. He (or she) is so efficient that he now accepts meat from me as there are not enough mice left to feed him properly.
Hope the neighbors don't find out about the cougar, as they would probably kill it.
Ed. Note: The following two e-mails sort of sum up the cougar situation in Illinois, at any rate, and raises interesting questions for the future; the most interesting one being how are our two species going to interact and is coexistence possible?
Adams County, Illinois
To Whom This May Concern:
I was visiting your web page and reading some of the e-mails about these cats. Well I am going to tell you something and you all better listen! We have several of them in our area of Adams County Illinois just south of Clayton. It is rough country through these parts. In the last three years I have personally seen numerous tracks around our farm. But recently, a fellow spotted one watching deer in broad day light on the side of the road. The deer are raised by a local farmer. This cat was hungry! Then just a few weeks ago our neighbor who has several young children was pulling up his lane from work in the evening and did not have a gun in hand and spotted another cat cross the fence, the road and then proceed to cross his front yard. We have children out in our area and we are concerned. All have vowed to kill these animals on sight if a firearm is on hand. I also support this. We have had calves come up missing and I tell you a coyote will not make a calf disappear. To top this off, another neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous had one of these cats follow him almost a mile to another neighbor's house during the past fall bow season.
If you have ears I ask you listen. I have no problem with big cats. But it is a matter of time before a child is attacked or a hunter and more cattle disappear. It has to be stopped before it happens. Now as far as we are concerned if it gets seen it will be shot. But the state with the help of concerned citizens could organize a drive and capture this animal or animals.
But I just thought I would put my two cents in here. But keep in mind when you find a track of a cat so big you can not put both your hands around it you have a little bit of competition there. I now carry a gun at all times when on our ground and also keep one behind the seat of the truck. It is just a matter of time before someone gets hurt or worse.
To Whom This May Concern,
I forgot to add something to the last e-mail and thought I would add it now because we was just talking about it. In your web sit it makes reference to a cougar being found dead due to an arrow wound to the side. Well a deer hunter not far from us claims to have stuck a cougar with an arrow but was unable to locate it due to it running so far .
Ed. Note - K.W. and his neighbors are performing an interesting experiment in wildlife biology, so if K.W. is reading this he might like to reply... There are either several large predatory cats in his neighborhood or, more likely, a single, incautious, naive young cat that has recently arrived and is checking out the area. Removal of the cat (by whatever means) would probably result in a drastic decrease in the number of sightings. (Note that a similar situation occurred in Pope County. See lu_lu's e-mail - 12/14/04). Since a hunter has apparently already shot the creature, the experiment is now in progress. My question is: are people in his corner of Adam's County still reporting sightings? And in the same number? We'll be waiting for his reply ...
Adams County, Illinois
11 years ago I saw a cougar near Lima, Illinois in Adams county about 7 miles from Bear Creek access on the Mississippi river. I was flagging traffic(none at the time) and it crossed about 20 feet in front of me. It was about 3 feet long with a tail of almost equal length and it ran low to the ground and was tawny in color. I am a hunter, have seen many coyotes and hunted them, have seen bobcat (1) in real life and several pictures. They have no tail. I deer hunt and I know my animals.
In the past two years here in Schuyler county 6 different farmers/hunters have seen cougars near and along Crooked Creek in Buena Vista, Camden, and Woodstock townships. They have only seen one at a time. Reported to be tawny in color although one along Forsythe Lane was reported to be very dark, perhaps black. I know these residents and they would not make up stories, and most of them are avid hunters. We are not stupid out here. When one of them had a calf attacked 3 years ago he had the local vet check it out and he said it was a big cat attack by the claw marks and bite on its side. There may not be 20 here, but we sure know there are one or two.
Lyon/Trigg Counties, Kentucky
I was telling a friend today about the time my cousin and I happened upon a mountain lion at Land Between the Lakes in Western Kentucky. We drove around a bend in the gravel/dirt road and there stood the cougar. We were scouting for deer and it was around September of 1990. Since I was thinking about this sighting, I searched the web to see if there had been any other sightings of cougars in Western Kentucky. That is how I found your site.
The cat we saw was a full grown cougar and as soon as it saw us it leapt into the woods and disappeared. Almost everyone that I have told this story to thinks that we saw a bobcat. I am 39 years old and have hunted since I was 17. I also have 20-20 vision. I saw a cougar in 1990, not a bobcat.
Adams County, Illinois
Hi, I am from Adams Co, IL, east of Quincy, by the airport. I am not sure what I saw yesterday around 12:30, but it was a huge cat, that I am sure of. It was a dark gray, but not at all black, at first I thought that it was a coyote, then I looked harder and saw what I thought was just a neighborhood grey tiger striped tom, a family on our road has a horde of cats (also ducks, chickens, goats etc...) but then I took a double look and found it to be huge. I was driving and I lost sight of it, and thought that I better back up and look again. It was not a bobcat (they have been released in the area north of us) and I tried to make it look like a bob, it didn't have pointed ears and the color was off so I didn't think that it could be a mountain lion, but I would have to guess that it was 3-4 feet in length, and umm.. 2ft to its shoulder. What was this? It did not run away, it nonchalantly kept going at a rhythmic pace (the walk was how I first decided it was not a coyote) and it looked my way when I backed up to look at it again, but kept going. Were my eyes, with the snow and all, playing tricks on me, or did I see a big cat? My family thought that I had been drinking, but that was not the case either. We have cows in the vicinity, the people that live across the road from where I saw it have small children, and like I said before, a family up the road has a bunch of different animals, do I need to warn these people or are they going to think I am a kook? Any feedback you can give me will be a godsend, even if it is telling me I am a kook. Thank you for your time in advance.
Is there an anticipated date of completion for the DNA studies conducted on the Mercer county cougar? Is SIU conducting the testing as announced? Thanks
Ed. Note: As stated elsewhere on this site.... at the time of this posting (mid-April 05) DNA testing was in the works but had not yet been completed. We'll let everyone know as soon as the results come in.
Christian County, Kentucky
1/24/05I just saw your map on mountain lion areas. I clearly saw a large slender mountain lion/cougar on my farm along the Little River about 5 years ago in Pee Dee, Ky. This was about 75 miles east of your probable sightings as depicted on the map.
Williamson County, Illinois
Hi, just happened along on your site. I saw what I believe was a black panther or cougar out northeast of Johnston City, Illinois. It was on a gravel road just southwest of Thompsonville, Illinois in the country. It was dusk and it passed about 200 feet in front of my car. It was huge, but running crouched. It ran from one cornfield to the other. It's tail was long and hanging low almost touching the ground. I've been raised around cats and dogs all my life and this was no dog. I know how a cat moves and it moved like a cat! I believe the year was approx 1991.
Adams County, Illinois
I just found your site, great place.
The reason I am writing is about a sighting I had last night in Adams Co., IL Just outside of Quincy, IL near the airport. I was coming home from work (in Golden, IL) about 5:30 pm along E 1900 (a black top that runs north of hwy 104 through Columbus and ends at hwy 24 in Coatsburg) I was about 1-1.5 miles north of hwy 104, as I came over a small ridge I saw something just getting across the road. At first I thought it might be a deer but then I could see its tail. From my best guess it's body was at least 4-4.5 feet long and it's tail was easily 36 inches. I would say it stood about 24-28 inches high. It was a darker tan color with a white under belly. Just before I passed it it turned it's head toward me and it's eyes reflected back a yellow color. I now have my camera in my car to hopefully see it again and get a picture.
Andy Myers, amyers @ adams.net (no spaces)
Jackson County, Illinois
I am friends with your sister. She didn't tell me you had a collection of cougar sightings. I did announce at photo club that I had seen one in Sept. at our property outside of Ava. It pawed through our fire ring and left a print on a brick which I did bring inside. Unfortunately, I was painting the deck at the time and did not have a camera in hand. Before I could go to the car to grab one, it had left. Our property adjoins forest service land and Little Kinkaid Creek.
Pope County, Illinois
Jim, you haven't heard from me in over a year. August 2003 was my last cougar sighting. Since that time, I am sure - the cougar is no longer in my area.
I think the cougar was shot and buried. I'll relate my story - the best I recall it.
One year ago at Christmas time I was in the local Wal-Mart talking to the ladies in the hunting dept. Everyone greets me with "seen any cougars lately"? My reply "not since August". We talked about cougars, they got busy and a man was standing there and he said to me "you won't see it anymore - it's gone." I said "oh, I hadn't heard that." He said "it was after my cattle and I took care of it." He then said "if this ever happens to you, shoot it, bury it and keep your mouth shut."
I was so taken - I shrugged my shoulders and walked away. At first, I thought it was just some reckneck bragging - but as time went by and I thought about what he said - I think he killed it.
I wish I would have talked to him and asked what it was doing to his cattle - killing them? chasing them? what? Also, how did he know that was the same cougar I saw - I didn't say where I lived.
He seemed to have known me - but I don't ever remember seeing him - before or since.
I've gone through more than a year - with everything normal here. Cat & dog are normal - no unusual barking or hiding and all through last winter, no tracks.
So, until the next time, I don't have any cougars!!
I lost track of Virgil Smith - so if you hear from him, let him know my cougar is gone.
Pike County, Illinois
Several years ago I subscribed to the Pike Press Newspaper located in Pittsfield Il. At the time Wayne Bauman or Baumann wrote outdoor columns for them. In this particular issue was a column about a big cat which was photographed by a trail camera setup by a friend of Wayne's. I kept the column but can't locate it. I have searched the web and can find anything about this "sighting."
As I remember the camera was setup on property owned by Bauman north of Pittsfield. It was a very clear photo and undeniably a mountain lion.
The best I can remember this would have been a year or two prior to the Randolph County cat being found along the RR in Southern Illinois [1998 or 99].
Another incident occurred a few years ago on the Il. River south of Peoria. This incident involved some duck hunters from the Decatur, IL. area. After loading their boat for a hunt before dawn one of them had to return to their vehicle for a forgotten item. His Labrador accompanied him. The short of this is they encountered a young mountain lion and there was a confrontation of some sort. The hunter's gun was in the boat with his friends therefore this encounter was not ended immediately. Again I forget some of the details but the story continued with the cat jumping into the boat with the hunters friends. No one was injured and the cat departed the area. I lost track of the story which didn't attract a lot attention at the time. I believe this cat was captured later that day or that week but the final outcome of the incident I never heard.............Just a couple for you to go after........
BRAD BROWN, Decatur IL.
Calloway County, Kentucky
I have checked with our friends as to our sightings and can report to you the following: We have seen a cougar at these dates and locations. All of these sittings were with in a few miles of Lat. 35.58 N, Lon. 88.11 W.
These cougars have been sighted crossing the roads. One was in the pounce position on the side of the roadway. Their color has varied from brownish gray to a dark possibly brown black color.
Hope this helps. We will report any further sightings.
Lyon/Trigg County, Kentucky
I read with interest the Vantreese story about you. You are right about cougars on the comeback.
I have seen two cougars in LBL (Land Between the Lakes). One was in the clear and about 20 yards from me. The other was a little further and in the woods but I had a good look at it. Both sightings were within two miles of each other and were seen while turkey hunting in the spring. The first sighting was approximately 25 years ago and the last one was probably 4 or 5 years later. I have talked with others, including TVA employees of LBL, who also have seen cougars. Why do the various state game and fish departments deny the existence of cougars when there are so many reputable eyewitness that they do exist in this part of the country, even though their numbers may be low.
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