16 April, 2008
Posted by Joanne at 8:50 PM
A few days ago, there were reports of a cougar prowling around the Linden Street train station in Wilmette, roughly 3.5 miles north of The Box House. The general consensus at the time was "yeah, right," because this is very much an urban area. Later, a cougar was shot and killed in Roscoe Village, in Chicago, just a few miles south of us. It was the first one sighted within the city limits since Chicago was founded in 1833, and many people assumed it was the one seen previously in Wilmette. After all, the odds are already huge that a great cat would make its way here. But more than one? Never.
My mind boggles at the thought of a cougar padding its way through my town on gigantic cat feet and into the City unseen. Although, if he followed the train line, I guess it's quite possible. Maybe he passed me silently in the night as I took Maggie out for her last call. What would I have done had I seen it? Probably wet myself. Many years ago, I had unexpectedly run into a black bear while on a canoe trip, and froze in near terror as the boat glided within inches of him on the shore--so close I could smell the musty odor of his fur.
So the assumption in Chicago was that the mountain lion gunned down in Roscoe Village had to be the same creature seen on the North Shore. But maybe it wasn't the same cat. Today, there were reports that another cougar has been spotted up in the Skokie Lagoons, to the north and west of Wilmette.
Who would have believed this could happen? Although there are the occasional rumored sightings of big cats along the Mississippi River or just on the other side of the Wisconsin border, the last confirmed sighting in Illinois of a wild cougar was in Southern Illinois in 1862.
I like that my stable, predictable Midwest surroundings can still surprise me.
(I couldn't post the photo of the dead cougar; it didn't seem right. So I took one from Wikipedia instead.)