Rumors of a cougar roaming the countryside east of Oregon recently have not been confirmed by officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resouces (IDNR).
Two Oregon residents, who asked not to be identified, said that people in the area from Lowden State Park to Daysville have reported seeing what they thought looked like a cougar in recent weeks.
However, IDNR biologist Frank Ostling said Tuesday afternoon that those sightings have not been reported to him.
He said the most recent report he has received of a cougar siting was about 35 miles south in Lee County.
“The last one I had reported was in the Paw Paw area and that was in early October,” he said.
However, that was never confirmed.
The most recent siting in the Oregon area was in September 2008, he said, when a resident reported seeing one of the large cats around Flagg and Lowden Roads, approximately six miles southeast of Oregon.
That siting was also not confirmed by the IDNR.
“It’s not to say a cougar couldn’t be out there on the landscape,” Ostling said. “It’s very difficult to get a hands-on, boots-in-the-field assessment. Cougars are secretive and wide-ranging.”
He said the IDNR takes reported sightings seriously.
“We take note of as much information as we can get to compile reports,” he said. “If we get more than one report from a single area, it lends credibility.”
This is a good time of year to find out what kinds of wildlife are in the area, Ostling said.
“Hunters are usually the ones who see unusual animals if they’re out there,” he said.