Illinois Wildlife Officers Capture Mountain Lion and Relocate It to Wildlife Sanctuary

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The state has not had a mountain lion population for more than 150 years

A young male mountain lion was captured last week in Springfield, Illinois.

Due to over harvest and habitat loss, mountain lions were eliminated from the state more than 150 years ago. Even though there are sightings reported each year, most turn out to be bobcats or feral cats. But recently, the real thing has made an appearance or two in the state. In early October a vehicle hit and killed a mountain lion on Interstate 88 in Kane County, according to the Daily Herald.

According to Patch.com, the recently captured mountain lion had journeyed across the Midwest into the state, where the Illinois Department of Natural Resources tracked and observed the collared cat for days before tranquilizing and relocating it.

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The animal was captured and fitted with a GPS collar last fall in Nebraska by the state’s Game and Parks Commission. The cat traveled across Nebraska and through Iowa with no reported human conflicts — then passed into western McDonough County in Illinois and likely Cass County before coming to Springfield.

When the mountain lion strayed into residential and business areas of Springfield, wildlife and public safety experts determined it posed an "imminent threat" to people and property. Staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services tranquilized it and took it to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, a 260-acre facility in Center Point that offers veterinary care and a permanent home for large and exotic cats.

“I am confident that the mountain lion will be protected and cared for at its new home,” department Director Colleen Callahan said in a news release Friday. “I also want to thank the families of Springfield for being cautious and keeping their distance while our experts worked to ensure the safety of the community and the mountain lion.”

In Illinois it’s illegal to hunt, kill, or harass mountain lions unless they pose an imminent threat to people or property.

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