Mountain lion struck, killed along Illinois highway

Dekalb County Cougar
The cougar struck and killed by a vehicle Oct. 16 on Interstate 88 in DeKalb County. (Photo courtesy of Illinois State Police)

The Illinois State Police has confirmed that a cougar was hit by a vehicle and killed Sunday night (Oct. 16) on Interstate 88 in DeKalb County.

It was reported as a vehicle-deer collision, but officers arriving at the scene discovered a dead cougar.

In a story that will appear in the Oct. 21 issue of Illinois Outdoor News, officials in Whiteside County have been fielding reports of cougar sightings since late September. The Whiteside County cougar was captured on a trail camera on private property. It is believed the cougar killed in DeKalb County is the same animal.

The dead cougar was taken to the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana for a full necropsy, DNR reported. The analysis will provide valuable information to biologists about the animal, where it came from and where it traveled across the Midwest.

Mountain lions were eliminated from Illinois prior to the 1870s due to habitat loss and hunting. They have been a protected species in Illinois since 2015.

While mountain lion sightings are extremely rare in Illinois, the state DNR said confirmed sightings over the past few decades have consisted of younger animals, typically originating from a population in South Dakota’s Black Hills.

The DNR is monitoring another mountain lion that was reported in early October in western Illinois after traveling east across Iowa into Illinois. That animal is fitted with a GPS collar for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s ongoing research into Nebraska’s mountain lion population and its movements.

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