CHICAGO (CBS) — A mountain lion was hit and killed by a vehicle on Interstate 88 in DeKalb County over the weekend.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said the accident happened on Sunday. The department did not offer more specifics about the location.
The mountain lion, or cougar, was taken to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for a necropsy.
IDNR experts believe the same mountain lion might have been spotted on a trail camera on private property in Whiteside County in western Illinois.
Another mountain lion was also spotted earlier this month in western Illinois. It has a GPS collar that was originally attached by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in November of last year as part of an ongoing research project that includes movement patterns.
Mountain lions were eliminated from Illinois before the 1870s due to habitat loss and overharvest. But mountain lions have been spotted in Illinois from time to time throughout the past few decades.
The mountain lions spotted in Illinois today are usually coming from a population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Memorably, in April 2008, a mountain lion was spotted in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood. The animal was shot and killed by police after charging at officers.
The IDNR receives numerous reports of mountain lion sighting sever year – but usually, it turns out that the animals people are reporting seeing are not really mountain lions. They are often feral cats or bobcats, the IDNR said. But the IDNS still documents and investigates all reports from the public.
Mountain lions have been protected in Illinois since 2015, and may not he hunted, killed, or harassed unless they pose an imminent threat to a person or property, the IDNR said. It is very rare that this happens – but if it does, and the mountain lion will not leave, the IDNR advises that people should stand tall, wave their arms, throw stones or other projectiles, and refrain from yelling. People also should not run, but rather back away while keeping an eye on the animal.
The public can report large carnivore sightings here. For more information on mountain lions in Illinois, follow this link.