Mountain Lion Struck And Killed on Illinois Highway, DNR Officials Investigate

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Getty)

On Monday (October 17th), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced a mountain lion was struck and killed by a vehicle on Interstate 88 in DeKalb County over the weekend. 

According to a press release, the mountain lion was transferred by the Illinois State Police to an IDNR wildlife biologist. It has been delivered to the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana (UIUC) for a full necropsy and DNA analysis. “The UIUC analysis will provide valuable information to biologists about the animal, its place of origin, and exploratory movements across the Midwest.”

It was further reported that the IDNR experts believe the mountain lion may be the same animal that was captured on a trail camera on private property in Whiteside County in late September. This was also confirmed by the wildlife biologists from IDNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Meanwhile, the agency said it is monitoring another mountain lion that was reported in western Illinois earlier this month. The animal has a GPS collar that was placed in November 2021 by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC). This was part of the Nebraska organization’s 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 

Illinois Department of Natural Resources also revealed that mountain lions were eliminated from the state prior to the 1870s. This was due to habitat loss and overharvest. Although it is extremely rare, sightings of the large cat have been confirmed in Illinois during the past few decades. 

“IDNR receives numerous reports of mountain lions in the state each year,” the agency says. “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. Regardless, IDNR documents and investigates all reports by the public.”

 Mountain lions have been protected in the state since 2015. It is unlawful to hunt, kill, or harass the animal unless they pose a threat to a person or property. “However, if encountered and the animal does not immediately flee,” IDNR states. “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.”