A young male mountain lion is making its way through central Illinois and conservation officials are asking the public to let it continue to roam. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said it was captured and fitted with a GPS collar in Nebraska last fall as part of a research project.
IDNR is notifying residents living west of Veterans Parkway in Springfield that a mountain lion, or cougar, has been detected on the western edge of the city.
The animal, which is wearing a GPS collar and has made its way to Illinois from Nebraska, was detected by satellite Wednesday morning.
Mountain lions tend to travel large distances, and this one has traveled with no reported conflicts with humans, including when it passed through the outskirts of Lincoln, Nebraska.
The animal has been moving through central Illinois the past couple weeks. It was captured and fitted with a GPS collar by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in November 2021 as part of an ongoing research project. IDNR continues to cooperate with biologists in Nebraska as it crosses Illinois. It previously was detected in McDonough and Cass counties.
IDNR urges people to leave the animal alone. Mountain lions are protected in Illinois, and it is unlawful to harm, harass or kill them unless they pose an imminent threat to a person or property, which rarely occurs.
However, should a person encounter a mountain lion and the animal does not immediately flee, it’s best to stand tall, wave your arms, throw rocks or other objects, and yell. Do not run – slowly back away from the location, keeping an eye on the animal.
The agency said it will continue to monitor reports in accordance with the agency’s large carnivore response plan and work to mitigate threats to public safety and property.