I had the lovely opportunity to enjoy another hunterʼs meal, and as expected I came away with some fresh stories of mystery beasts from the woods of Illinois. I managed to get some information on mountain lions and wolves in Illinois, and more supportive testimony on the potential for large carnivores to exist out of sight and undetected for lifetimes.

Shortly after I entered the room I spotted a high-school friend, who - after I questioned him - gave me some interesting information. Kyle was able to tell me about not only of a mountain lion sighting but also a possible readily-available source of food for the animals. Kyle told me that he was traveling east on Illinois Route 116 late at night, and he witnessed a big cat what appeared to be a tan-coloured cougar at the side of the road. It was dragging a road-killed deer, and as he passed the mountain lion, he saw it move quickly away from the road with its food and drag the carcass across the ditch and into the woods. This brings forth the idea that in addition to plenty of land and live game, the population of large mysterious predators could easily find a food source provided by the highways with road-kill.

The next person I interviewed was a friend of my Father. His name was Dennis, and he is a farmer in the area as well as being a local deer hunter. Dennis told me of how about 15 years ago he had been hunting during shotgun season and saw a black mountain lion crossing the game trail about 50 yards down the trail from him. Dennis couldnʼt remember exactly when he saw it and unfortunately I cannot remember what part of the locality that he saw it. But he also told me about sheep that had been killed in a very particular way and partly eaten. These sheep had been killed about 25 years ago. Unfortunately the locality is still somewhat sketchy. I do not mean to taunt my readers with false hope, but Dennis did think he could possibly help provide the CFZ with credible pictures of a Mountain lion from my area.
His son had also seen one of these big cats while hunting. The case gradually becomes more obvious but the chase does not feel like it gets any closer.

In my area of Illinois it seems to be common wood lore that Mountain lions inhabit the state and every one I asked had 1 of 3 answers. "NO your crazy", "Yes I have seen them", or "No I have not seem them but I have heard of them all my life".

When I asked Dennis about the Shawnee Forest theory, he told me that he went to school down by there for college in his younger days, and up until as recently as 30 years ago, the Shawnee forest was totally impenetrable totally full of swamps and bottoms and glens with thick brush and tall trees. Dennis also told me about another interesting bit of information that Farrell hogs and Farrell Horses that live in the trees and bogs. So in addition to the already plentiful game there is still another food source. Dennis told me with as deep and as thick as the Shawnee forest is he sees no reason why the isolated relic population theory would not stand. He also believes that there could very well be a population of the recently rediscovered black bear.

Later that night, I spoke with another witness but his name escapes me at the moment, and he told me about seeing a pair of mountain lions while in his deer stand. And how he too could tell me where to look. He knew someone who might be able to produce credible trail camera photos. The man confided to me that he was looking for somebody to talk to because he had talked to the Illinois DNR and they told him to keep his mouth shut. The man also told me that he believed the Shawnee population theory as well. He also believed that near Henry, Illinois there was a surviving pack of great lakes wolves.

So I managed to come up with some interesting stories from the hunterʼs meal but the strange stories of uncanny carnivores seem to be common wood lore for most country folk. As I am relating interesting stories I have some more stories.

After making a post to a hunting group, no-one had any knowledge of mountain lions, but bobcats seem to be coming out of the wood work literally here with local raccoon hunters in Illinois constantly running them up trees or catching them in traps. As I have said before, the bobcats in Illinois started out as shady deer camp stories told by hunters enjoying a beer after a long day, but now they appear to have not only taken a foothold in Illinois but that they are a thriving population.

I also got a very interesting response to a video that I posted on youtube about my involvement with the CFZ. The young man Cory told me about how he was about 13 he was on an ATV on his familyʼs land near their timber when he ran something tan move out of the field toward the woodline and he thought it was a deer because of its size but then he saw the tail and knew it was a cougar when it stopped at the edge of the field about 50 feet in front of him, and he could clearly see it was a cougar. He says he turned around and rode away making sure it did not follow him away from the place. Orchardville was the place of this sighting. Cory also told me that everyone in his family had seen the cats black and tan big cats, and he may be able to get a hold of trail camera pictures of the face of a cougar. I will be reviewing any pictures with a fine tooth comb to insure their authenticity.

With what I know about predator biology and animal behavior some of these sightings could be the same animal because the Puma has a large range and could easily cover 20 miles in one day. So the actual population density is very uncertain.

Some other interesting stories to come out of my recent research also include more support for the sasquatch population that could survive in the swamps and trees of the Shawnee forest. Another cryptid that could exist in the Shawnee is escaped or released captive large snakes along with possible populations of American Alligator that may have come up the Mississippi river and survived the temperatures by hibernation in the bogs and wetland of the Shawnee forest. I have heard stories of hunting dogs being dragged under water by alligators. Though I do not have proof of the stories I would not be surprised. Also I have heard rumors of a 'gator body that was found in the swamp.
I will continue on the track of mystery Animals in Illinois. And I will attempt to track down more witnesses, and possibly verify these trail camera Photos. I must admit I have encountered quit a few very apocryphal stories in my research but I do my best to sort out the truth or what I judge as the truth. I Hope that yet again my meager research has in some small way helped the CFZ and I will continue to do my best.


Illinois is no stranger to the cryptids of the sky as well as those that dwell in the woods and prairies that I have already reported on. I have no personal experiences, and have not been able to interview anyone who has first person knowledge of the massive winged cryptids of Illinois, but I was able to track down some stories from the Mysterious Illinois book written by Troy Taylor.

I almost feel that I am not doing my job properly, because I am merely recounting sightings and interviews made by other people and I cannot verify any measure of credibility on these stories other than the discretion of the writer whose material I am providing commentary on. But it is the best I can do for now. So I hope my readers will accept another commentary on cryptid Illinois found in a published work.

I have just recently started college again after the Christmas break, and it has been a bit of an adjustment again as I have been off school for over a month and a half. But I am still making time for my work with the CFZ.

One of the more famous flying cryptids of Illinois folklore are the piasa birds of the Alton Bluffs along the Mississippi river. The French explorer Pere Marquette in 1683 discovered Illiniwek artwork cut and painted into the bluff at Alton, Illinois where it overlooks the place where the Mississippi River and the Illinois River meet. These huge works of art depicted fierce looking creatures with four feet, wings, the faces and teeth of lions, and tails that looked like a cross between a fish and a snake with deer antlers atop the heads. This Native American art description sounds more like it would fit into a Greek or Roman fresco from Mediterranean Mythology, but it appeared at the meeting place of two great rivers in America.

The word “Piasa” bird, means “Devourer of men” in Illiniwek. However , I must admit that because these cliffs have been mined for stone long before the advent of modern technology and photography, the original works of art have been lost forever. Only reproductions of the creature paintings exist today that are based on descriptions taken from the journals of early explorers in the region. But, there is a story of these terrifying creatures carrying off humans from an Illiniwek tribe, until a chief had a dream vision of how to kill them by shooting them under the wings with arrows where the feathers seemed the thinnest. He offered himself as bait and held onto a root when the piasa came to take him away, and as it flapped its wings the others from the hunting party drew and shot their bows into the creature. The poison-coated heads went deep and the creature fell dead from the cliffs into the river below.

I must admit that, like a lot of Illinois folklore, the piasa birds are very apocryphal. Yet an explorer was shown a cavern in the bluff face before it was mined, where human bones lay feet deep on the floor and it appeared to be lived in at one time by huge birds. However , due to the loss of the site because of mining we will never know if this truly was the den place of the great creature slain by Chief Owatago of the Illiniwek tribe.

I believe that the bluff paintings of the ancient times are much like the paintings of today. The artist was attempting to get across a meaning of how fierce a foe it was that chief Owatago faced with his hunting party. But the picture might not be meant to show the animal as it would have looked in reality.

However , I have two theories for what may have caused the piasa bird legend. One of them being that it could have been a relic oral memory of huge birds that stalked the native tribes from above during the last Ice Age. Or some of the large Ice Age birds of prey still existed in the United States up until very recent times, or even until present day out of sight above the earth, and in the cliffs and bluffs along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. For more on the piasa birds check out Mysterious Illinois for the full story and account of the monument.

Also, I have came across some interesting and fairly recent attacks on humans by the great Illinois thunderbirds. I do not think it is entirely impossible that large Ice Age birds could have survived until recent times. However, if they still survive and have not recently gone extinct due to loss of habitat, the many cliffs along the Mississippi River would make ideal places for the large birds to live, nest and hunt. The bald eagle has recently made its stunning comeback in Illinois - what if other huge unknown eagles could still survive; it’s unlikely but not totally impossible.

The earliest official report of a thunderbird attack was made in Tippah County, Missouri just over the Mississippi river from Illinois in 1868. A child was taken from a schoolyard by, what the teacher described as, a massive eagle. The child was eight years old and assuredly not a light meal or a light carry for a modern bird. As a side note, the debate of whether or not modern, or even Ice Age, birds of prey could carry off a full sized human being reminds me of the Monty Python sketch about the swallows and the coconuts. But to return to the story. As the child was carried away the teacher and the other students cried out and alarmed the bird. More than likely rocks that had been thrown at it connected, but all things as they were, the eagle dropped the ill-fated boy and he fell to his death. However, the injuries sustained from the bird’s talons and beak would surely have killed him if the fall did not.

Bernard Heuvelmans, in the past, had remarked that “no modern bird could carry anything larger than a lamb”. However, I have no evidence to my knowledge that Heuvelmans ever said that an Ice Age bird could not carry more weight with its superior wingspan and muscular body. So I just plain do not know. Also, I am as open to possibilities as the next cryptozoologist, but we must keep in mind that when a bird is in the air, it is very hard - and damn near impossible - to correctly estimate its height in the sky, or its wingspan correctly, because there is no frame of reference. However, when it is near the ground such as in a thunderbird attack, and it is carrying - say - a child of known size, that bird will look pretty darn big next to that child close to the ground.

In the year 1948, the thunderbirds returned to Alton, Illinois and sightings began to come in a few times a month. However, no attacks were reported from these sightings. And, unfortunately, without an attack where the bird is carrying something of known size, the sizes given by witnesses cannot be verified to be correct without, at the very least, an object of known size in the background.

In Logan County, Illinois in 1977 in Lawndale, two giant birds attacked 3 young boys playing in the back yard of one of their houses. The attack was fast and almost could be said to be coordinated; because the boys were separated by the massive birds, before one was chosen for abduction and, as the adults came to see what was going on when they heard the children yelling, and the sound of screaming and flapping from the birds. One of the boys was caught up in the talons of the one of the birds and was lifted a full 3 feet above the grass and carried in the air for more than thirty five feet. The young boy managed to save himself as the bird flapped higher by striking the bird in the head when it leaned down to peck at his face to subdue him, causing it to drop him, and continue on its way with a scream. The boy was traumatized and the family was ridiculed by papers and experts of the time.

Over the course of 1977 the huge birds would be sighted in Pekin, Bloomington, Tremont, and also in rural Mclean County. Many of the huge birds would be seen looming from telephone poles or in trees alongside Illinois roads, and there was no explanation that anybody could come up with as to from where the hell these mystery birds came from , and why did they appear to be migrating around the state following alongside the Illinois River.

Near Delevan, Illinois in 1977 a thunderbird was seen to snatch a sixty pound hog from a pasture and fly with it to a telephone pole, where it proceeded to enjoy a leisurely meal leaving the body in the ditch.

Yet after the panic of 1977 and 1978 died down there was a much less steady, and much more staggered, list of reports of the thunderbird, with a report as recently as 2003. But, it is not totally impossible that large Ice Age relic birds could have survived along the Mississippi cliffs and bluffs until very recent history, but what are they, and where are they now, and why did they appear and disappear?

I do not have these answers. But , mostly cryptozoology leaves you more questions than answers and a few statements as well. So , I hope you have enjoyed this instalment of the cryptid Illinois project using some references from the Troy Taylor book Mysterious Illinois. There are more stories of thunderbirds in the pages of the book, but I wanted to give a small summary of the reported thunderbirds in recent Illinois history. I will continue on the track of mystery animals in Illinois as best I can, and write as regularly as possible but with college starting up again, I will have a fresh pool of possible witnesses, but yet, perhaps, less time to write.


So, the question on my readers’ minds might be, "so when is he going to start talking about cryptozoology and undiscovered species, instead of relic populations and possible displaced beasts that are beginning a breeding population?" Well your answer is right here. As I currently have no new news of large unknown carnivores in Illinois, I will be discussing the shadier side of Illinois’ woods and prairies. I am currently reporting on the Sasquatch sightings in Illinois. I personally and professionally believe in the Sasquatch, but I do not think that they would be incredibly common here.

The Shawnee National forest is a huge patch of woods filled with game hills and valleys, on the south end of Illinois. It could easily hide any number of strange creatures - some natural and some darker and supernatural - but as always, I attempt to keep my commentary secular. But the Shawnee is not the only place that large hairy humanoids are seen.

Ironically enough, on the topic of the mystery primates and witnesses, I am actually personally acquainted with Peter Byrne the ex-tiger hunter turned naturalist, and as I am both a hunter and an amateur naturalist I found him to be an admirable and pleasant man.

I am currently using information that I found in the Troy Taylor book Mysterious Illinois. However, as always, some reports will be credible and some will be apocryphal so as I am writing on reports already reported, yet again I cannot say I know anything for sure. But I will do my best.

Firstly, I must address one thing in particular although professionally, as I have said, I attempt to keep my views secular and un-supernatural as I can. Personally, I believe that the beast called the Wendigo, the Windigo, and the Sasquatch are not one and the same. The Wendigo is a monster created by acts of cannibalism and if these sins are un-repented and the acts continue, the person will eventually become a monster with human intelligence and diabolic cunning, with an unquenchable hunger.

The Windigo is not exactly the same and some have wondered why it is spelt differently. The difference is that the Wendigo is a monster, but the Windigo is the evil spirit or tortured soul of a person who commits acts of cannibalism without repentance, but dies before they are totally transformed into a monster,. The Windigo is doomed to possess and waylay those who it might find in the lonely wastes of forgotten timberland and continue the curse by , once taking over the person’s faculties, committing acts of cannibalism through them in an attempt to doom them to the same fate and never-ending hunger.

All of that said, professionally I must remain secular and the CFZ does not endorse as Jon Downes calls “Hocus Pocus”. So to avoid bringing religion into the debate I will go no further with the description of the Wendigo and the Windigo or their stories. But the reason that I have even mentioned them is because the Wendigo legends have often been interpreted to exclusively mean Sasquatch. You may disagree with me, but I do not believe that this is the case. And as aforementioned, I do not believe them to be the same creature.

The Sasquatch is natural if undiscovered, and the Wendigo is a sinister figure with bad intentions that haunts the winter campfires of the north woods of America.

Now that I have covered that, I can resume my expository. The earliest officially reported sighting of a Sasquatch in Illinois dates back to 1883 in Centreville, and it was made by the wife of a respected doctor. The Sasquatch resembled a nude man with wild features and was very hairy. I do not have an exact measurement on its height and, in truth, at the time of the sighting it was called a “wild man” by the paper because most of the great apes had not been discovered by westerners. The wild man was seen by Mrs. Saltenberger while she was driving her carriage down the road past an orchard when she was attacked by it. She struck it with her whip and the horses panicked, picking up speed along the road and the wild man kept pace with the carriage and was able to jump on the back and hold on for a few moments, but soon dropped off and ran back into the trees along the side of the road. The doctor and some other young men went looking for the wild man but it was never seen again.

The report from Centreville was the first official report, but it was not, by far, the first story told of the Sasquatch in the Midwest.

A report of a more docile Sasquatch was made by another woman in 1912 outside of Effingham, Illinois. It was seen near a small creek, and it was not just one, but what appeared to be a family of Sasquatch that would play in the water by the family farm. But this report was not taken seriously until the earlier report was discovered by the woman’s family.

Other reports of Sasquatch outside of Alton, Illinois appeared in 1925 and in 1929. What was said to be an upright walking huge gorilla was sighted in the woods outside of Elizabeth, Illinois.
For a while, no other reports came to light that made public record until 1941 when a hunter was stalked by an upright huge baboon-like creature in the woods near Mount Vernon, Illinois. The hunter was actually attacked and struck the beast with the butt of his rifle and fired shots trying to discourage it, and apparently he must have missed because no blood was found, and the beast ran away and disappeared into the thick forest.

When sightings of the Sasquatch continued into the next year, hunters numbering 1,500 attempted to exterminate the beast, but it was never found. It would stalk them and seemed to delight in screaming at them like a devilish wild cat with its tail in a wine press, and several of the hunters’ dogs were killed in a strange manner during the hunt. But no body ever surfaced, and no actual trace was found afterward. This story is rather apocryphal like the others. But, there is no doubt that if these beasts do exist, which I believe they do , they could prove to be dangerous even if they are not malevolent by nature.

From 1940 to 1960 large footprints began to surface in southern Illinois without explanation near Indian Creek. Keep in mind that this is well before the Paterson footage was taken and the Sasquatch had not achieved the fame it enjoyed after the international hype caused by the footage.

However , later in 1962 a grayish upright beast was sighted by two fishermen near Decatur Illinois.

Oddly enough, another strange beast with Sasquatch-like qualities came to light in Centreville, Illinois yet again. Little has been recorded in public record about the later Centreville woods sightings because it was deemed as backwoods nonsense. Yet these sightings continued into the late 1980s.

The sightings of Sasquatch seem to be mostly based in the southern end of Illinois, not extremely far from the Shawnee forest that I mentioned earlier in this article.

Oddly enough, a Sasquatch was sighted on a notorious lovers’ lane near Decatur, Illinois in late 1965. The place was called Montezuma Hill. The witnesses’ passions where cut short when a man-like hulking beast approached the car and spoiled the fun, terrifying the lovesick teenagers. Their screams soon aroused the attention of the police who knew the reputation of Montezuma Hill and had been in the area. The teens commented about how they could smell the beast even though the windows all had been rolled up. No report of the height of this Sasquatch was made.
Yet another sighting, on still another lovers’ lane in Illinois, was made in 1968 by two more teenagers who found their passion ruined by a monstrous black hairy beast that walked upright and had a round face and wicked looking eyes set in its ape-like face. They estimated its height to be around 10feet because of the height of the tall grass that it loomed over as it tossed dirt and rocks at the car. This sighting was in Chittyville, Illinois. The police that investigated this sighting noted the mashed down grass, and that the local dogs had been reported to be barking and disturbing the peace.

I do not wish to be lewd, but I believe that Sasquatch sightings are prolific on lovers’ lanes because of the amount of pheromones that are released by the human body during romance.
A sinister encounter with an Illinois Sasquatch occurred later in 1968. Three boys in Fulton County found their friend lying beside the road knocked out cold, and when they went to investigate they also found themselves attacked by a large hairy upright beast. They managed to get back to the truck with their friend dragging one of their number, who had also been injured, and they drove away quickly fearing for their lives.

In the early 1970s, the farmer city monster came to light and even a local policemen reported a sighting.

Bloomington, Illinois also had a rash of Sasquatch sightings during the 1970s as well.
And, in 1972, along Colehollow Road in Pekin, the cohomo monster was seen, and this strange beast left three-toed tracks. I do not mean to discount any sightings, but must admit I find some of these sightings I report from the book to be very apocryphal.

More sightings of large hairy beasts persisted in 1973 in Decatur and in 1973 Edwardsville had Sasquatch sightings. The Murphysboro Mud-monster also appeared in 1973 and it was believed to be a Sasquatch.

The rash of Sasquatch sightings I am retelling I think might be a bit of mass hysteria caused by the Paterson footage, but as I have said I do not want to discount these sightings in any way because I did not interview these witnesses. And because they appear in the book I believe that Troy Taylor surely did his fact checking. There is more, but I wanted to stop for a few moments to interject this commentary and explain again, in case I forgot to say above, that I will be attempting to be in contact with Troy as soon as I can. The 1970s proved to be an epidemic of Sasquatch sightings in the Shawnee forest itself. And sightings all over Illinois have persisted on staggered occasions up until 2005.

I have attempted to give a very brief summary of Sasquatch encounters in Illinois forests and rural areas, yet I have no idea of the credibility of these sightings and, personally, I have not known any Sasquatch witnesses. I do not think it is impossible that isolated populations of the Sasquatch could exist in Illinois, but as I said much earlier in the article I do not believe that Sasquatch are very numerous in Illinois.

Though I said I would not report on the supernatural or the Wendigo anymore, as I have written this article, I have recalled something that I heard a year or two ago from a friend. This sighting is what I believe to be the Wendigo because it was hairless and beastly and upright and she said it was about 7 feet tall. She drove past it in the ditch on the country road and stopped to see what it was. When it stood up she screamed and drove away, but the beast kept pace with her car as she drove the forest lined road as it screamed at her in the winter night. She said she could see it had claws and it did not give up the chase , but it swung into the trees and followed the terrified girl screaming as it went covering the distance quickly. The chase finally ended when she left the trees and came onto open territory where she could get up sufficient speed until she reached a well lit residential area. Her last sighting of the beast was of it standing atop a street light at the edge of the residential area.

This sighting was on a winter night, and though I know that the Blackwood work, the Wendigo, is fiction I could not help but think as I heard it, that the Wendigo in the story could climb trees and swung through the branches at great speed and its victims feet would always be torn by the wicked branches. Everything in this sighting screams at me in an eerie way that it was a creature like the beast from the Blackwood story, and all the other Wendigo lore I have ever heard around the campfire.

It is very eerie how your mind draws connections between what you thought was fiction and what a witness tells you to be the fact of their sighting. She had never even heard of the Wendigo, and did not believe in Sasquatch , but did not think that what she saw looked at all like a bigfoot. It was all but hairless she said and had a bit of a snout like face and gray skin, and it reminded her of the black Spiderman. So I do not know. She is the only Wendigo witness I have ever come across but I believe her. It is hard when you are in the snowy woods alone in their desolate wastes not to get a bit paranoid with campfire lies floating around your head.

So now, I can return to my normal secular commentary again to conclude this article for the CFZ. But as always I will be continuing on the track of unknown animals in Illinois. I do not think that an expedition in search of Sasquatch in the state of Illinois would be a very successful venture because though they might not have much habitat left, if they are indeed here, they are experts in eluding verification and classification. I apologize if this article seems a bit dull, but it is more of a short history than the exciting article that I would like it to be, but I promise there will be more to come on Illinois Cryptozoology in the near future, as I attempt to track down my large mystery carnivore witnesses. But as it is winter still in Illinois, I doubt I will have any recent local reports of large mystery reptiles or exotic reptiles until things warm up again. But as I always say, I am doing my best.

Hunter’s Meal Interview Report

I had the pleasure of attending a hunter’s meal this last weekend and strangely enough it proved to be a well of Cryptozoological information, where I enjoyed American wild game, a few beers and fine fellowship with outdoorsmen of all ages. Shockingly it proved to be a good venue for me to begin questioning these people about their knowledge of Illinois’ cryptid creatures. Obviously I began the questioning early in the night before the whiskey started to flow.

The first man I interviewed was named Erick Reddigger, and the interview went very well I explained to him like all the other people that I interviewed that I was working for a zoology group interested in reports of large out of place carnivores and other strange animals in Illinois. I did say it was the Center for Fortean Zoology but to save too much explanation of our mission statement, I just saved time and just called us a zoology group.

Erick proved to be a well of information, and though I delved deep, I am sure the well has not run dry, and he told me he would let me know if anything new developed. He told me of growing up in the same area that I also have grown up in but as none of my readers will know where it is I won’t bother with naming the location. But it would be easy to find, and it’s a real location but its outside of Washburn, Illinois.

Erick told me of how when he was growing up some times he would hear a mountain lion scream in the middle of the night outside his childhood home in the woods. The scream would be not too far off, and he also found tracks. When I questioned him on the tracks, he smiled at me, and assured me that no they did not have claws in the pugmarks and that it was the size of his hand.

Erick told me also of having seen a mountain lion while deer hunting in the past two years. However, luckily for him this mountain lion passed him by, and did not stalk him like other hunters. But he told me of a threatening feeling that he got, as most witnesses seem to feel. Erick also enlightened me about how while he was running raccoons with dogs, he also found himself running bobcats up trees. But as a conservationist he always called his dogs off, and let the bobcats be on their way. But it was a fear of his that some night he would run a mountain lion up a tree and have to deal with that. He told me he would keep in touch, and that he would be willing to talk to the CFZ if and when they came to Illinois and that he would also help them as best he could and give them leave to investigate his property.

The next man I spoke with told me of also seeing a mountain lion while deer hunting, and said that it was about 100 yards from his tree, and that it was crossing an open field. However he had a laser range finder with him that is a useful tool hunters have so they can know how far away the game is. So that’s how he knows that it was about 100 yards. (I can’t say exactly 100 yards, however, because there is a plus or minus of 1.5 yards on most range finders but it gives a good ballpark idea). But he also looked at it through his shotgun scope and could clearly see its size. When I asked him, he asked me how could anybody mistake a mountain lion when it has a thick low sweeping tail?

I cannot at the moment remember this man’s name or the exact location of this sighting, but he is easy enough to find, and when the time comes I would be able to procure that information as well.

Another hunter I interviewed was an elderly man who was also a veritable well of information. This man’s name was Lynn Reddigger a relative of Erick’s who lived on Pleasant View Road, north west of Washburn. Lynn told me of five mountain lions, two of them being black. All of them within the past two years. One of the black mountain lions was seen by his son-in-law, who was also deer hunting but with archery tackle, and he was so well camouflaged that the cat passed within 15 yards of his stand and it did not look up at him, and it continued along the trail following the scent of a deer. The man then remembered that the beast could climb, and so he quickly got out of his tree-stand in case it came back to find him with only archery tackle. This Mountain lion in question that Lynn’s son-in-law saw was black.

Lynn also told me about what he has seen himself. The first Mountain lion was a plain tan one that he saw crossing his property skirting the tree line. He believes that this cat may have a den nearby but he was unsure. Lynn also said that he saw a black Mountain lion cross the road in front of him one night and appear from one side of the road, only to disappear into the corn of the other side. I know the area and I am not at all surprised.

One of Lynn’s friends overheard my interview with him and interjected that he had also seen a pair of wolves crossing a horse pasture not far from the place that the mountain lion crossed the road. I am not at all shocked about that, because that stretch of timber owned by my grandmother’s relative is substantial and could support large predators easily. So I will try to be in contact with the farmer that owns the pasture, to check with him if he had ever seen anything for his part, but his horses are very rugged mustangs and could easily take care of themselves.
Lynn also told me - as an afterthought that he had seen a black bear in the area about 8 years ago while he was plowing a field at night.

In his own words, “I was plowing this fella’s field for him because I used to make a little money on the side, and I saw something moving out in the darkness behind me and so when I got to the end of the field and turned around I hit this thing with the headlights, and I thought who the hell’s cow is out in this field, but when I got closer and saw it better it was a bear eating grubs that had gotten turned up by the cultivator. And the bear stood up on its back legs and then I know what it was and he was a big old boy, and I had never seen one that size outside of Canada. He was big and black and had a white belly for some reason, and as I got closer to him he dropped back down on all fours and run off toward the trees again. And that was about 8 years ago.”

Lastly Lynn told me of how his wife had seen a pair of tan coloured mountain lions cross the road in front of her as she drove a winding country road south of Lacon, Illinois.

Now that is a very impressive list of sightings out of one man, and when I asked him if he had seen the paper, he said “what paper?” And so I know he didn’t know about the bear that had recently been sighted in Buda. He seemed to be a very good witness and said that he would be in contact with me if anything new developed, and that he would also be in touch with the CFZ if and when they came to Illinois and would definitely work with them and open his property to an investigation.

My next man that I talked to was not an eye witness but knew of a man (who he said would not have lied) who saw a large black mountain lion while deer hunting in the 2007 shotgun season. Todd was the man I talked to, and he told me that his friend had seen the black mountain lion walk along a log about 50 yards away. I do not have many details about this sighting, but I will be trying to contact the man who saw the big cat. And Todd told me that he would also send anyone with stories to me to tell them and if anything new developed he would be in touch and also would more than likely help the CFZ expedition if he could. Todd told me that it was totally fascinating to him that they would be possibly investigating around here.

Todd also believed that it would not have been impossible that a relic population of mountain lions could have existed In Illinois. In addition Todd told me of seeing bobcat while hunting, and what he believes to be a fisher cat, which is not a cat at all, but a large mustelid.

One other local man that I talked with Scott told me he had not seen one himself but had heard of many mountain lions recently in the northern part of the state of Illinois along I-80. But there was a sighting in the past that he told me of as well, that dates back to about 15 years ago near Larose Illinois, which is one of the places that I hunt deer when they are in season. But Scott said that more than likely that big cat was now lying in front of some hunter’s fire. But that he would spread the word about the investigation as well and be in touch of anything developed.
All the hunters that I interviewed even if they had not seen them, or heard anything to report, told me about the fact that they believed the mountain lions were here and that there was possibly a pack of wolves living within the quad county area, as in Woodford, Tazewell, Marshal, and Peoria counties.

So the night was very productive and as I write this I am nursing a bit of a hangover. Luckily for me, my father drove me that night, and the local hunters were very helpful and planned to be even more helpful. I did not however take any video testimony but I will be checking back with them to be in touch, and also check their story at a later date to ensure that it did not change in the retelling.

This hunter’s meal proved to be an inexhaustible fount of information of cryptozoological interest, and proves that as I have always said that outdoorsmen and their woodcraft is a plentiful but rarely tapped source of intelligence for cryptozoloogy. I uncovered more reports of the black mountain lions, more reports of a possible breeding pair of gray wolf in the area, and another black bear and many bobcats.

I will also add as a caution do not go looking for trouble or it might find you first, I know those readers outside of the USA might not be able to enjoy the same method of self preservation as I can, (for at least the time being), with the right to bear arms. But keep in mind that these are large carnivores and we are lower than them on the food chain and would easily make a meal. The disquieting facts that I have uncovered about mountain lions stalking hunters silently like the predators they are should ring as a warning that these animals are and could prove to be very dangerous.

As a Guide to the expedition I would be totally remiss if I did not think about the safety of all parties in the cryptid hunting party. So if you do go looking for something please beware that it might just find you, and then no one else would ever find you, So be careful out there and use whatever battery would be legal in your region at your own discursion.

Most of the sightings are very current and all of them sound to me at least to be credible. As a side note the United States Federal Government is attempting to delist the gray wolf from those endangered species list, which would allow for state jurisdiction of the management of the large carnivores. So in the words of Jon Downes “Cryptozoology calls and we must obey over the hills and far away” however this is just outside my door. I will continue as always on the track of the mystery carnivores as well as other Illinois cryptids.

Camp Fire Tales (and more)

Firstly, I am of German and Irish heritage, but I am all-American. But, as I am of German and Irish descent as I already said, I grew up hearing fairy tale. My grandmother read me the complete Brothers Grimm stories, and not the sanitized Disney versions - Hell no! I was told the bloody and bawdy cautionary tales that they were meant to be, and when my grandmother told me to stay out of the woods at night, I stayed the hell out of the woods.

However, I can’t stay out of the woods now because as a hunter and conservationist I have a deep love for nature and a respect for all the creatures in the woods. That said, I also have respect for my well-being and you won’t find me in the woods at night without a bang-stick in my hand.

But, anyhow, moving on. I have always loved stories, though for a good part of my life I could not read them very well, shockingly enough. When I was born, I was an emergency caesarean birth because my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, and collapsed one of my lungs and I damn near died before I even got started in this world. So, having gotten a second chance at my life at a very early age of a little more than zero, it’s amazing to me how well I have wasted my second chance.

However, my point is due to oxygen deprivation. It’s possible that I sustained slight brain damage resulting in Attention Deficit Disorder, meaning that, although I was a gifted child - or at least my teachers said so - if you ask Jon, he will tell you I am very modest. But, although I was a gifted child I had a slight learning disability in that I could hardly sit still, let alone concentrate long enough to learn to read. I was always looking and investigating. So I had trouble learning to read. And that is why I learned to love stories my mother would read to me, and I learned by ear.

Growing up I was read,aside from the normal childhood classics, rather lofty literature, such as Count of Monte Cristo, The Lost World, Hound of the Baskervilles - which, might I add, makes a wonderful bed time story - and other works. What I am getting at is that I learned by listening because I could hardly read. However, since I was able to learn to read I have never stopped and I have never lost my thirst for knowledge. And because I learned by listening to the written word and fairy tales it should come as no shock that I would listen to old campfire stories.

These American folk tales and deer camp lies of aged hunters were heard in the coffee shop where my grandfather would take me while he saw his friends from the Korean War. These local stories can prove to be quite interesting, and a bit frightening, and although they may have been embellished along the way, I am trying to sort out the wheat from the chaff. One thing that I always said about my political science class was, I know it’s all bureaucratic rubbish, and it would be alright if you didn’t have to sift through so much horse manure to get there.

As for what I have picked up in the oral tradition tales of strange creatures, Some of them bordered on the supernatural, but for the sake of professionalism and keeping my commentary for the most part secular, I will keep to purely natural animal stories of mysterious origin.

Years back, my neighbor - who is a respected physicians’ assistant - told me of being outside on his hunting cabin porch, overlooking his back yard, enjoying a cigar and waiting for his dinner to be ready when he noticed something large and brown in the field about 100 yards away. Leaving his cigar in the ashtray, he went inside to get his field glasses and when he returned he found the shape again.

It was, what he says, a mountain lion in the field among the stalks of dead corn, and every now and then he could see its tail flick back and forth as it lay. If had not been for the flicking tail he would not have seen it at all, as the cat was so well camouflaged. He tells me of an eerie feeling that came over him when he looked at its eyes through the field glasses and saw that it was looking at him and had possibly been stalking him as he smoked. But once the cat knew it had been spotted it got up and trotted away parallel to the man’s house and disappeared into the trees, of what form a large patch of forest ground filled with game in that area. I am currently trying to contact him to check the credibility of this story to ensure he was not just telling it to see my eyes go wide as dinner plates. So take this sighting with a grain of salt and a lime - and while we are at it - a healthy shot of tequila, because a grain of salt is no good on its own.

I also know of a local gravel pit. Well to be plain, a rock quarry, where I have heard tell of large cats being sighted. In some stories they are black and in some stories they are the normal tan mountain lion coloration. But nonetheless, they are said to possibly dwell nearby this spot which is very full of game and accessible water. I also am currently trying to track down this set of stories as well and check the facts to see if it is more than just campfire lore of Woodford county.

As I said before, I am just trying to recount tales I heard in my youth, and I will be later - once I have had time to research the facts - updating the facts once I check them, but for the time being they are just stories, though thought-provoking they are at that.

My grandfather on my mother’s side told of a pack of wolves that once roamed the forests of rural Marshal county and told me of being attacked while checking his trap-line and breaking the butt stock off of a small-bore rifle across the head of one of the beasts. However, I am unsure of whether this pack ever existed, if it was populated by wolves, or whether it is more likely that they might have been coy-dogs (a coyote-dog mix which is a very dangerous beast indeed because of its unnatural lack of fear of man and its wild cunning). The Native Americans did not give koy-o-tae (coyote) the name of trickster for nothing.

However, because this is also the area where a wolf was recently shot, I do not find it impossible that there could have been a displaced population of great lake wolves that may have ended up in the area and survived. But, due to the lack of fresh genetics, it’s a bit unlikely that the pack mentioned in the story would still exist today. It’s more likely that the population is very small and split up into breeding pairs, or interbred with feral dogs. So, that is uncertain. But, as I said, it is not impossible, with wolves coming through the state regularly that new genetics could not have found the Marshal county pack, though competition for the coyote might contribute to it being small. But they definitely know how to stay hidden. So I just do not know, it is not impossible that it could be a displaced population of breeding pairs but, as I said I just don’t know. But, I think it is very likely that the pack that attacked my grandfather in his youth was more than likely coydogs. And, like all of these stories, I will be fact checking and you will know more when I do.

Ironically enough, bears haunted my dreams as a child. I would dream myself on my father’s parents’ farm where I did much of my childhood play, and I would find myself confronted by bears. I would run for my life as fast as my young legs would carry me, and slam the farmhouse gate behind me only to remember with horror that the other side of the yard was unfenced and the fence was only there to keep the chickens out of the yard. It was entirely open on the other side that overlooked the country road, and there would be a bear on this side as well. I would run for my life towards the house, and I never remember how the dreams ended, but I would awake in a cold sweat.

However, these dreams could have been fostered by stories of the bears my grandfather saw on fishing trips to Minnesota that I heard sitting on his knee as a very young man in the smoky air of a coffee shop. That is when you could still smoke in a coffee shop, imagine ashtrays at Starbucks, on a cold day in hell, what is the world coming to? However, I also heard stories of bears being kept captive in old grain silos. It’s not impossible that some may have been released or escaped, but I do think - as the reporter I spoke with before, Jeff Lampe, thinks as well - that it is highly unlikely that captive bears that have escaped could start a breeding population. And, I believe that the bear currently seen in Illinois is a displaced bear from another state. However, expanding populations may see Illinois as home to more wild black bears as time moves on.

As for other possible mystery animals that might turn up in Illinois, we move along back in time to the days of the great rail road cattle cars. Full with cattle driven by cowboys up to the Red River in Oklahoma from Texas and loaded into cattle cars headed for Chicago. Now these cattle cars coming from the south west to Chicago - the great slaughterhouse of the world for a time - might have had more than just mooing beef in them. It’s entirely likely that in the underbellies of these iron snakes that real snakes might have found shelter and unknowingly hitched a ride northward to drop off along the way. And, most railroad tracks are bedded with sand and rock so what better place for hitch hiking rattle snakes to start a den and breed.

However, I have very little proof of these stories, but the theory is very sound and I would not at all be shocked if in time it is proven right by expanding population or unfortunate human victims of snakebite.

Another possible source of mystery reptiles in Illinois, though unlikely to start a population, is still in the days of the great rail roads and the circus trains that could, and would, occasionally wreck along the tracks. My great grandfather on my mother’s side told me the story of one such wreck; however he has since died long years ago and the world is much poorer for the loss of such a man. But he told me of the wreck of a circus train that apparently lost its python, or boa, I cannot remember which, but it was a very large snake that apparently found its way into their chicken yard which would not be hard to do as the house is located not 300 yards from the tracks. To continue the story as best I can remember it, this large snake was busy with swallowing a chicken while the farm dogs were raising all hell, and my great grandmother came out to see what was going on. She apparently dropped a washbasin and went to get my great grandfather, who in turn went to fetch his shotgun to dispatch the snake. As interesting as this story is, I have no proof other than my memory of this event because I never did see the skin of the snake or have any proof of it ever even existing, let alone eating a chicken and being shot.
Yet, that said, it was always a very provocative story with touches of other possible truthful explanations for other mystery animals woven into it.

I doubt that the large black cats seen in Illinois are not color morphs of the mountain lion produced by isolation from genetics in a displaced or relic population, and are in fact the descendent of black leopard lost from circus train wrecks in the distant past of Illinois that may have interbred with a relic or displaced population of mountain lion. I do not know if the genetics are close enough to allow one of these crossbreed big cats to be fertile, and that is where the black coloration is coming from. I do not know, but nothing is impossible - only mathematically improbable. Though the idea of there possibly being black leopard genetics in a possible Illinois mountain lion population could explain why the carcass of the deer spoken of in my first posting was cached in a tree like a leopard would do, but unfortunately I have no idea. Both theories for the black coloration are debatable and even then, the fact of there being a population of mountain lions in Illinois is also highly debatable, at the very least. Though I believe there is.

I hope that my writing on this subject is captivating and at its very least mildly entertaining, if not at all a slightly bit educational.

I will soon be attending a wild game feed, which is a local celebration held at the end of hunting season in my area. It is where local hunters get together to drink, smoke, chew tobacco and feast on the harvest that Mother Earth provides us that was taken by the sweat of their brow and the keenness of their wit, but it goes without saying that we never mix guns and liquor - I figured I had better clarify. However, at this local wild game dinner, I will attempt to conduct interviews regarding large mysterious carnivores stalking the Illinois forest, and other interesting fauna of my home state, that is before the beer and fellowship goes to my head.

Thank you for reading, and I hope that I am making a small contribution to the Centre for Fortean Zoology, be it a meager one at that, seeing as this post is nothing but campfire and coffee shop stories from my youth as a very young outdoorsman at the time of hearing them.


Despite being officially listed as having been extirpated in the 1860s, sighting of mountain lions are surprisingly prolific in Illinois, and it sometimes seems that “everyone and their brother, and their dog” have seen mountain lions in Illinois. Even I, in my youth, may have found the tracks of a cougar. I knew they might have been because, they did not have claws in the track, and coyote or dog track have claws in their pugmarks. As I am sure you all know, cats have retracting claws and so their claws do not show up in their pugmarks.

Now, the expedition that will hopefully be heading to my neck of the woods is after proof of a mountain lion population in Illinois, and also looking to establish the theory, or even prove, that the population is a relic population of big cats that over time and isolation from new blood lines, have developed gene patterns that produce a black coat.

(Editor’s note: Check out the link in the left-hand tool bar to the CFZ investigations in Illinois during 2004)

Since 2001, 2 mountain lions have been shot and killed to date.

The idea is very provocative, but some from the newspapers outdoors column and the DNR, feel that the mountain lions being seen and Killed in Illinois are from the black hills population. It is not impossible that the animals could travel that far. Considering the amount of sightings over the years that been reported, and those which must have gone unreported, that I have come across at campfires in my life, it just do not sit well with me that they are all traveling cats.
I am in direct contact with the newspaper and many outdoorsmen So, I will know as soon as anything new comes to light.

So in my Short time as a CFZ member and in my long but short life as a woodsman, I am recording what first-hand stories have I am across, and I am trying to track down the people who told me stories when I was very young.

More recent accounts that I have just acquired of cougar and even “Black Panther” are as follows. A friend of mine who had a sighting in rural central Illinois told me of a man who was deer hunting with a bow. Ross says this man was up in his tree stand and he got the feeling he was being watched and he turned around to see a “Black Panther” on the ground. The man believed it was between 150 and 200lbs, which checks out, because as a hunter he knows how to judge animal size at distance.

The man quickly got down out of his stand, and tried to walk calmly to his truck, so as not to trigger an attack response. But as he watched his back trail he noticed he was being followed and stalked by the big cat. However it stopped at the edge of the tree line and watched him get his gun from the truck and apparently there was a standoff beside the truck, but the cat lost interest and ran off. Though the cat did not attach the hunter, it did stalk him on his way out of the woods.
I am currently in contact with Ross, trying to track down this man for more information and be sure to verify this story as it has come to me in the third person.

Ross himself is a hunter and a lifelong outdoorsman, and he thinks he had a sighting of a mountain lion. Ross, however, was reluctant to say what he saw because even though he knows what he saw he did not want to say in case it might end up false, and be a dog.

However I think his reluctance adds to his credibility because he did not want to waste anybodies time. But what he tells me is this he had just pulled into a pasture with his girlfriend Lisa, on his way to a hunting their double-seated deer stand in rural Woodford county. He says it was a 30 acre field. And this spot was on the south end of a 400 acre farm with 80 acres of forest on the property. And he was on a logging trail about 300 yards down the trail, there was something that came running out It was big and tan with a long tail, and its shoulders and head bobbed as it bounded down the trail toward the pair on the 4 wheel ATV. It however saw the oncoming vehicle, and made a sharp turn, and headed for the river bottoms away from the field. Now Ross knows it was a mountain lion, but he was trying to make totally sure it was not a yellow lab. But it was simply too big at 300 yards, and moved like a cat.

Also, I would say that as a hunter, Ross knows how to judge animal size at distance. However, Lisa says that there’s no chance it was a yellow lab, because the side view of it clearly showed the tail being very long, and keeping balance with the body. Ross said they found tracks, and after I asked him what they looked like he said they didn’t have claws in the pugmarks, which makes them a felid’s tracks. So they kept on down the trail to the deer stand and never saw a single deer in the timber that season because they all acted spooked.

Still another spooky tail of the Illinois woods, deals with what appears to be a mountain lion cashing of food. Ross says that when he was in middle-school he saw something big and black in a field on their property, and so he went to tell his father. They went with guns, as always, to check it out. And they picked up a drag trail with bits of deer hide in and hair in the field, they followed the trail back toward the river bottoms. Then the trail quit, and they couldn’t figure why.

They looked up into a busted off hollow tree, and about 6 feet up there was deer carcass cashed in the hollow, and they couldn’t figure out how it got there. That was years and years ago now. But that deer carcass is almost pure proof that it was a big cat kill. I have also heard un-verified stories about dens and cubs.
I also do not want to set you all up for disappointment but I may have a friend with trail camera pictures of a mountain lion. But I will say more when I know more.
Illinois also has a rapidly growing population of bobcats and river otter. The bobcats in Illinois (which according to Mammals of Illinois, By Donald F. Hoffmeister are almost entirely extirpated) started out like the mountain lion reports; just local legend. However the population of bobcats is growing very fast. And wild boar are also starting to show up, as the feral hog population in the southern states expands northward.

I do not know everything, but I am doing my best to report the facts I know and make sure they are credible. So that if and when the CFZ expedition does come to Illinois, I will be able to help guide them as best I can. I am working on verifying and tracking down local eyewitnesses. Also Illinois’ Shawnee Forest might hold the isolated population of bigcats but it is unknown. The DNR is not crazy about these reports, and so they have been less than helpful but as things develop more and I gain credibility and make connections.

Jeff Lampe has been very helpful and I am doing my best. I am sorry that I have had to use newspapers for so many of my sources, but I am just trying to get more information toward my investigation until I can track down the people who told me the stories.

Jeff Lampe thinks that the idea of a breeding population of mountain lions in Illinois is highly unlikely, however he does say that its not impossible that there could be breeding pairs. But as you know by now, I feel that there is a stable and growing population. I also have some very interesting reports of more sightings and possible cattle killing. But I want to make sure I can verify that before I say any more.

I have also been honored by Jon, who has put me working on the Big Cat Study Group with Neil and Max. As I have predator hunting experience I guess I am a consultant if I could give myself that much credit. I am no expert but I am an experienced outdoorsmen. So I hope I can bring something to the New Guard of the Cryptid Revolution and The CFZ.

As I am an American and a bit of a blue-collar young man, well .. fine I’ll say it - I am a redneck. But as I pride myself on being articulate. Anyhow it’s a bit of an inside joke for me to think of how I read of the great hunting expeditions in Africa and India had “White Hunters”...

Well as I am a bit of a redneck at heart and going to be helping if I am lucky with a CFZ expedition , I am the CFZs “Whitetrash Hunter”. Its kind of an inside joke. So thank you for reading and I hope you feel a bit more informed and at the very least entertained.


Unfortunately I am having to still use the news paper for reference but I am also in direct contact with the reporter who did the original interviews. The next mystery animal is a Cryptid is a canid or – to be more accurate – several canids. According to Donald Hoffmeister in Mammals of Illinois the wolf was extirpated from the state in aboput 1860.

But all over Illinois there have been wolf sightings, and in Febuary of 2008, a wolf was shot by a coyote hunter near Lena Illinois. I have found a recent history of wolfs in Illinois that made the paper. They are very hard to find and there is no such thing as a helpless animal so they take care of themselves and avoid people, However I’m not one of the people that likes to spout nonsense about wolves being harmless.

2001—There’s a good chance another timber wolf wandered through Illinois this year. That radio-tagged animal left Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and journeyed more than 500 miles to northeastern Missouri, where it was shot by a hunter who believed he was killing a coyote.

  • 2002—The first confirmed wild wolf in Illinois in modern times was shot by Randy Worker on Dec. 29, 2002 in Marshall County near Henry (also along the Illinois River). Worker was coyote hunting when he shot the wolf, which was thought to have wandered south out of Wisconsin.

  • 2003—A wolf was killed in Indiana that was wearing a radio collar placed on it by Wisconsin researchers. Most believe this wolf passed through Illinois, even though nobody reported seeing it.

  • 2005—The last wild wolf in the Chicago area was killed by a car in Lake County near the Chain O’Lakes State Park on Feb. 17, 2005. That wolf, too, was thought to have wandered south out of Wisconsin.

  • 2005—The last confirmed timber wolf in Illinois was killed in December of 2005 in Pike County by Seth Hall, who was hunting coyotes near New Canton. The wolf was confirmed as wild and part of the Great Lakes pack orginating in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan.

  • And in February 2008 a large coyote was shot but it appeared to be wolf like and it was 145 lbs, after much speculation the DNR Finally confirmed the animal as a large wolf. Most of the wolves sighted are small males that I think are driven out from their natural habitat as juveniles and head south looking for new territory and possible mates.

I think it’s possible, and so does Jeff Lampe that there would be a good chance of breeding pairs, and as the great lakes packs get larger thanks to conservation efforts that more young wolves are being driven out and starting new packs. However only single wolves have been seen at one time, and only male wolves have been shot, so the pack theory is still unproven but it’s not a relic population Its more than likely slow population expansion and nature is restoring itself. I am trying to track down more eye witnesses for credible wolf encounters but they are less populous than the mountain lions (which are also supposed not to exist) in Illinois.

Guest Blogger, Richard Freeman presents:

Guest Blogger, Richard Freeman presents:


1. Unlike the more ferocious brown bear, the black bear usually backs away from confrontations with other animals. There are many cases of them having been chased off by domestic dogs, and on one occasion a black bear was treed by a tom cat whom the bear outweighed 40 times.

2. Despite their name, black bears can be chocolate brown, cinnamon, grey, white or even bluish in colour. The blue colour morph are known as ‘glacier bears’ in Alaska whereas the white black bears of the Pacific North West are known as ‘spirit bears’

3. Spirit bears are not albinos. Their eyes are not pink. They are not closely related to the much larger polar bear that evolved from brown bears. Spirit seemed to have evolved from an isolated population of black bears that inherited the gene for white fur colour.

4. Famous black bears include Winnipeg of London Zoo who inspired Winnie the Pooh, and Smokey - a bear cub who was the mascot for the United States Forest Service.

5. In 2004 at Baker Lake Washington, a black bear drank 36 cans of beer after raiding a camper’s cooler. In the morning he was a bear with a sore head!

6. The Busbys worn by the Queens Foot Guard are made from black bear fur.

7. Though they attack humans less often than brown bears, black bear attacks on humans seem to be predatory rather than defensive. Whereas many brown bears will leave a dead human untouched, a black bear will eat them.

8. Black bears can kill and eat animals as large as cows, but meat only makes up around 15% of their diet. The rest is fruit, roots, grasses, and other vegetable matter, as well as fungi and honey.

9. There are 16 sub-species of the black bear.

10. A young black bear with mange was recently mistaken for a sasquatch. However, sasquatches walk erect habitually, and do not move about on all fours like a bear. Also the sasquatch has broad, well-defined shoulders that all bears lack.



Out side of Buda Illinois, last June, two farmhands spotted a black bear while working on a grain house. On Dec 30th Cheryl Balensiefen got pictures of the first black bear documented roaming the wilds of Illinois in at least 42 years. The experts that have been consulted on bears using the size references in the pictures, say that the bear is at least 500lbs. These reports are credible and the pictures have been documented. The witnesses managed to roll up on it in their truck and get the pictures. Due to the fact this bear did not hang around. The outdoor writer I talked with who wrote the article, says he thinks that there is a good chance this is a wild bear and not just an escaped captive bear. This is a quote from the News article quoting from the witness and it is used with permission.

“We came up on him pretty fast in our truck in the corner of a field and he turned and looked at us like, ‘Don’t mess with me,’” said Kent Balensiefen, who drove while his wife took pictures. Then the bear climbed a fence and ran through a small patch of woods and across farm fields.

The most recent bear sighting since came last Saturday 7 miles north of Wyanet. No doubt there will be more in the days to come. Less certain is whether this bear is wild or a captive release. Wild or not, the bear raises another more important question: Are Illinoisans ready to cohabitate with a predator that can top 500 pounds? So far most residents of Bureau County seem content with that concept. The county Sheriff’s Office, for instance, is taking reports but asks that nobody approach or harm the bear.) “

I personally think that it is a bear that has been displaced by flooding in bordering states, the bear is most likely a displaced black bear from Northern Iowa or southern Minnesota. However it’s not too big of a stretch to think that these large carnivores could travel long distances looking for new territory or possible females.

The Illinois DNR (Department of Natural Resources) may try to tranquilize the animal. However its unlikely that they will be successful. I have hunted deer in woods filled with deer and never even seen them if I didn’t do everything right, or it just was “the wrong day”. So finding one bear in a forest is a long shot. It is, however, unlikely that the bear will be a problem for locals. Bears do not have any lawful protection in Illinois because they have not been resident in Illinois since the mid 1850s. However, although a hunter could go out to shoot the bear, it might be difficult to find, because as I have written above, it appears to be wild and have a fear of humans. The reporter that I interviewed said he is just really unsure if it’s a wild bear or not, because it’s very large and although it could have grown up captive, but it acts like a wild black bear.

I do not believe that this is a case of a relict population, however. To quote Jeff Lampe (the reporter) again, “The times are changing for predators, though. A mountain lion was shot in suburban Chicago last summer. Wolves pass through the prairie state with regularity. Now we finally have a documented bear.”

So that’s the most recent large carnivore in Illinois and though not an unknown animal the question that is not known is: Where the hell did it come from?


I am a very new member but a long time fan of the CFZ. And I never really dreamed that I would ever work with my childhood heroes Jon and Richard. However, as I am a lifelong hunter and outdoorsman, I paid attention to campfire stories growing up. I am not an expert, but I know how to think like a predator and one thing that I have noticed is that some parts of cryptozoology have a lack of hunting and woodcraft experience.

Mostly people are not at home in the woods, and do not go out and do not think like a hunter. For instance, rarely do I see people using the correct attractants, or using cover scents when setting camera traps, or being concerned with protection from large beasts that just might prove to be real.
Most people just do not know how to move quietly in the woods, in order to be as unnoticeable as possible. For the most part these large cryptids are wild animals, and not only could they prove to be dangerous if aroused, they also know how to stay out of sight. If you going tromping around the woods like a lost boyscout troop making noise and leaving scent all over, it is unlikely you will have any success. The Cryptic animal is not a cryptid because it is easy to find, and if they know you are there, they will avoid you. Or at least that’s my take on it.
I am not saying I am qualified to comment on the way people go searching, but I am saying that they might have more success with a hunters mindset. I would like to stress here that none of us at the CFZ are looking to kill the cryptid, but if you’re a cryptid hunter, then act like a hunter and think.

So people who are in the woods all the time like outdoorsmen are well placed to help in the research field because they could bring the woodcraft and tracking to science. I am not an expert, and in truth I am not even finished with college, but I am I a law enforcement program because I would like to become a game warden, because they are well placed to help in cryptozoology however rarely they do. But I do not doubt that a game warden always being in the woods might have horror stories to tell from what he has seen on the job but could never go on the record about.

As I am an Illinois hunter and a cryptid hunter, I was honored to be asked to help collect information for a possible CFZ expedition in my home state of Illinois. I have hunting experience for large game with archery tackle, and wild predators with rifle.

I have been lately trying to collect stories that are credible. I have also interviewed a local outdoor writer Jeff Lampe. But I will explain that later. So here is a quick rundown on the mystery animals of Illinois:
  • Out of place Black Bear
  • Out of place Mountain Lion
  • Out of place Wolf
  • All white White-tailed deer
  • Coydogs (Coyote Dog Cross)
  • I am also trying to track down Stories of Possible exotic snakes and large turtles and Giant Catfish.

Illinois has always had stories of large cryptic carnivores roaming our woods. But lately in the past few years there has been a rash of cryptid activity and large carnivores. Just recently we have had reports and actual pictures of a black bear roaming the woods and fields of Northern Bureau County. And since 2001 four wolves and two mountain lions have been killed In Illinois.

(Editor’s Note: all three species were supposed to have been extirpated in Illinois between the mid of the 19th and early 20th Centuries)