Reports Monday resembling a cougar was the latest in a series of comments by people along the North Shore including residents of Highland Park and Lake Forest.
Northbrook alerted its residents recently that the Glencoe Public Safety Department has received reports of a large cat-type animal resembling a cougar near the Lake Michigan bluff/shoreline, according to a Village of Northbrook staff memo. The first sighting occurred on the morning of April 15 on the bluff below the Hazel Avenue overlook in Glencoe.
The news from Glencoe came as no surprise to a pair of Highland Park residents, Alain Leval and Jim Kuchinsky.
“It went to Glencoe,” Kuchinsky said of the animal. “A friend of mine said there was one in Lake Forest last week. A friend of hers took a picture.”
Leval saw nothing but heard noises in Highland Park’s Sleepy Hollow Park that caused him to reverse tracks while walking his dog. “We heard a roar from the woods,” he said. “It was a sound you hear in the zoo. We walked back the other way.”
In Glencoe, a resident on an early morning walk observed a large cat, which was lying down, but rose to its feet and disappeared into the heavy brush. The second sighting was on the evening of July 26. A Glencoe Public Safety employee witnessed a large cat cross the street at Dell & Lakeside and walk down towards the lake. The employee described the cat as resembling a cougar.
The Public Safety Officers made efforts to investigate each sighting, but were unable to locate tracks or other hard evidence of the animal. Contact was made with the Cook County Forest Preserve District, which received two unconfirmed cougar sightings in the Skokie Lagoon area over the past two weeks.
A Wildlife Biologist from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources informed us they have had no confirmed sightings in our area. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) advises there are no sustained populations of cougars in Illinois; however, young cougars have been known to pass through the Midwest after being pushed out of their original range in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Those that appear are transient and searching for a new home range. These animals generally avoid populated areas and may be here looking for food. Deer are their main prey in the Midwest. Deterrence for these animals includes dogs, bright lights, flashing white lights and music. Residents are encouraged to use caution and asked to report sightings of suspicious animals immediately.