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Possible cougar sighting in Highland Park

Cougar cool shade his den. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

Cougar in the cool shade of his den. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 1, 2013 6:23AM

HIGHLAND PARK — Residents have been alerted to a possible cougar sighting in Old Elm Park, located in the Highlands north of Half Day Road.

A resident reported Nov. 25 seeing a large, tan, feline-type animal similar in stature to a cougar walking on the west tree line in the park. Highland Park residents are advised to be alert, especially when outside with children and small pets.

Highland Park police personnel immediately investigated the incident after receiving the report Nov. 28, but did not locate any tracks of other evidence confirming the identification of the animal.

In September, a resident of the 1100 block of Lincoln Avenue South, about two blocks west from Lake Michigan, also reported seeing a possible cougar.

Similar cougar-like sightings were reported in the Glencoe and Winnetka between April and September, but remain unconfirmed.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources advises that there are no sustained populations of cougars in Illinois, although four of the animals have been photographed by trail cameras in far southern Illinois. In 2008, there were a number of cougar sightings in Lake County, culminating with Chicago police shooting one in the city.

Deterrents to cougars include bright, flashing white lights, and loud noise. Residents are encouraged to exercise awareness while outdoors and use caution if an animal fitting the description is observed. Small children and pets should always be supervised when outdoors.

For clues to identifying cougar tracks, see

Residents are asked to immediately report any sightings of suspicious animals to the Highland Park Police Department at (847) 432-7730.

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