Authorities in Chicago suburbs are warning residents of a possible cougar sighting in a forest preserve about 30 miles outside of the city.
DuPage County Forest Preserve Police said a mountain lion sighting was reported Friday at the East Branch Forest Preserve in Glendale Heights and signs were posted on area information boards warning residents to be on the lookout.
"On Friday morning a visitor notified the Forest Preserve District of a possible cougar sighting on the west side of the preserve," the Forest Preserve Police said on the agency's website.
"A Forest Preserve District police officer who responded to the call also reported seeing an animal that looked like a cougar. Officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Forest Preserve District who arrived shortly afterward were unable to confirm the sighting. The District is placing trail cameras at the preserve."
Brian Kraskie, an ecologist employed by the Forest Preserve District, said the reported animal may have indeed been a mountain lion.
"If it was a cougar, it is highly likely it was a young adult searching for a mate or suitable habitat and was just passing through," Kraskiewisz said. "Many wildlife species move through the landscape using passageways such as river corridors and railroad tracks, both of which are present at East Branch."
Cougars were absent from Illinois for more than 100 years, but sightings have picked up in recent decades, with one of the animals being shot by Chicago Police in 2008.
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