The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has tranquilized a cougar prowling on the west end of Springfield.
IDNR made the decision to tranquilize the animal after it was found in a residential area. It will now be transported to a sanctuary specializing in the care of large felines.
Wildlife experts and public safety officials from IDNR, the Illinois Conservation Police, the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services (USDA WS), and the Springfield Police Department determined that the mountain lion, or cougar, that had strayed into residential and business areas of Springfield posed an imminent threat to residents and property and therefore needed to be removed.
The animal, which is wearing a GPS collar and has made its way to Illinois from Nebraska, was detected by satellite in western Springfield Wednesday morning. IDNR officials conferred with their counterparts at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, who declined an offer to send the mountain lion back to their state. The Nebraska Parks Commission had outfitted the young male with a collar in November 2021 to study its movements. The animal was previously detected in McDonough and Cass Counties.
USDA WS staff tranquilized the mountain lion around noon today and will be transporting the animal to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, a 260-acre feline sanctuary in Center Point, Indiana that provides homes and veterinary care for large and exotic cats.
Earlier this week, IDNR notified residents living west of Veterans Parkway in Springfield that the mountain lion was detected on the western edge of the city and was being tracked by researchers. At least one elementary school in the area had decided to hold recess indoors while the cougar was in the area out of fear of confronting the animal.