DEKALB - A mountain lion struck and killed by a vehicle on Interstate 88 in DeKalb County on Sunday could be the same one recently sighted in Whiteside County, Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials said Monday.
The mountain lion was transferred by the Illinois State Police to an Illinois Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist and has been delivered to the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana for a full necropsy and DNA analysis.
The analysis will provide valuable information to biologists about the animal, its place of origin, and exploratory movements across the Midwest, according to an IDNR news release.
“IDNR experts believe it may be the same mountain lion that was captured on a trail camera on private property in Whiteside County in late September and confirmed by wildlife biologists from IDNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” the release said.
[ Mountain lion prowling rural Morrison in Whiteside County, sheriff says ]
Earlier this month, Whiteside County Sheriff John Booker reported multiple sightings of a mountain lion in rural areas near Morrison.
Although extremely rare in Illinois, mountain lion sightings have been confirmed in Illinois during the past few decades consisting of younger animals, typically originating from a population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
IDNR is monitoring another mountain lion reported in western Illinois in early October. This animal has a GPS collar that was originally attached in November 2021 by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as part of an ongoing research project on their mountain lion population, including movement patterns.
The NGPC has been coordinating with state agencies on GPS location data as the animal recently made an eastward journey across Iowa and into Illinois. IDNR will continue to coordinate with NGPC and other agency partners on this animal while it is in Illinois.
Mountain lions were eliminated from Illinois prior to the 1870s due to habitat loss and overharvest.
IDNR receives numerous reports of mountain lions in the state each year. Most often the alleged sightings are determined to be cases of mistaken identity with other animals, such as feral cats or bobcats, or evidence is not available to validate the report, according to the release.
Mountain lions have been protected in Illinois since 2015, and it is unlawful to hunt, kill or harass them unless they pose an imminent threat to a person or property.
The IDNR reminds the public that it is very rare for a mountain lion to pose a threat to people or property. However, if encountered and the animal does not immediately flee, people should stand tall, wave their arms, throw stones or other objects, and yell. Do not run, but slowly back away from the site, keeping an eye on the animal.
The public can report large carnivore sightings at https://www.wildlifeillinois.org/sightings/report/.