It’s Raining Cats and Dogs (Sort of)

Keri ButtBesides deer, on my list of favorite species to follow is any apex predator.  In recent years, I’ve become downright obsessed, specifically with cougars and wolves.

Several years ago, I said it: there’s no way it could happen overnight, but it is plausible that these two apex predators who once roamed plentiful in Illinois could once again inhabit and become a part of our ecosystem.  I’ve had many conversations where I get a sideways shake of the head, and a “Naw, it’s just a young male traveling through.”

I’ll tell you what. The cougar in a recent trail cam photo taken in Pike County didn’t look very young. In fact, the cat looked to be huge. I just can’t understand why anyone would completely discount the notion of a population established here.

Awhile back, I read an article saying that Illinois residents shouldn’t be concerned about the wolf or cougar making a “comeback,” because Illinois doesn’t have the resources to sustain an established population of either. Why not again?

In the past few years, we’ve had a handful of wolves shot in Illinois. Confirmed sightings of cougars have increased, also. This begs my rhetorical question — if these animals are leaving territories they’ve remained in for decades without needing to venture elsewhere, why are they encroaching into regions they’ve long been extinct from now? It’s because those territories no longer have the sustainable habitat to hold the overpopulation. Research is now showing that females are on the move, as well, and we all know what happens in nature when boy meets girl.

Perhaps wolves and cougars are just passing through, but in my opinion, someday more folks might just be taking “a little extra assurance” when checking their trail cameras.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Illinois – Keri Butt

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