Cougar Alert! Winnetka Police on the Lookout After New Sighting
Another village residents says they spotted a cougar in Winnetka, sparking an entirely new investigation.
Although police have yet to confirm a cougar is roaming the north shore, another Winnetka resident has informed police of a potential cougar sighting on Labor Day.
“On September 3rd, 2012 at approximately 8:30 pm the Winnetka Police Department received a report of an animal sighting, possibly a cougar, seen along the 1300 block of Willow Road, adjacent to the Village Public Works Facility,” reports Winnetka Police in a statement. “Although unconfirmed, the detailed description provided of the animal has warranted additional investigation.”
Residents and even public safety officials claimed to have spotted a cougar roaming the north shore before, prompting Glencoe’s Animal Control Specialist Katie Sweeney to install a “cougar cam” at Dell Beach for two weeks. However, the camera never snapped a photo of a cougar.
"Although unconfirmed, the detailed description provided of the animal has warranted additional investigation.”
Even so, the latest potential spotting on Labor Day is prompting a new investigation. The Winnetka Police Department is joining forces with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and an experienced wildlife expert to determine whether the cat may have actually set foot in the area.
Village officials are reminding residents that while there are no native populations of cougars in Illinois, ones have been known to pass through the Midwest after being pushed out of the Black Hills of South Dakota. According to Sweeney, cougars are overpopulated in that area, meaning one is occasionally spotted elsewhere.
“It’s very probable that we had one pass through town, but to have it stay here? They typically go where there’s no human population,” Sweeny said.
And if you find yourself face-to-face with a cougar, remember not to run.
“You pretty typically want to do the same thing you’d do if confronted by a coyote,” Sweeny said. “You want to wave your arms and scare them off. You don’t want to run because that chase instinct will kick in. And if you find yourself being attacked, definitely fight back.”
Residents are encouraged to use caution and asked to report sightings of suspicious animals immediately by calling 911. As a cougar’s main prey, deer carcasses should also be reported to police.