It never rains but it pours. I have had a long dry spell of no new information coming in from the Cryptozoology Illinois Project. However, very recently I have acquired a bit more information to contribute. It came very unexpectedly in the form of my monthly subscription to Outdoor Life ( I came across an article in this month’s issue on Midwestern Cougars. A recent Chicago Illinois cougar was killed by police in the suburbs. The article mentions a rapid expansion of cougars across the Midwest in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota , Oklahoma, Arkansas and stranded populations of sightings all over the Louisiana Purchase, Illinois having only a few sightings recorded.

However, I feel that in the short time I have been working for the CFZ I have uncovered many more credible reports that never made it to official record. Also, in such circumstances, I feel that reports that did not make it to official record are possibly more credible because it shows that the eyewitness is not seeking fame for their sighting. According to the sightings map there is a very dense accumulation of Big Cat evidence in Missouri.

However, the article calls the range of the western U.S. the traditional range, which I take to mean the modern traditional range because until their alleged extermination on the east side of the Mississippi River, stories of Appalachian Mountain cougars were very common. So, there was an eastern U.S. range of the mountain lion. There is a dot of note on the map in southern Illinois in the region occupied by (you guessed it) the Shawnee National Forest.

So, even though the article focuses more on the expansion of the western mountain lion, as seen in the recent jaguar incidents, it is not uncommon for big cats to roam vast distances and not to be cut off by rivers. So, as the great plains and Midwest population grows, it is only a matter of time before they are crossing the Mississippi again. However, it is my belief that the mountain lions are, as I have said repeatedly, a relic population that may have occasionally been visited by members of the western mountain lion.

I was also contacted by an eyewitness who was a relation to a young man who is a recent addition to the CFZ. This sighting is about 2 years old. The man’s grandmother encountered a normal tan mountain lion while she was on a morning walk. It was watching her from the brush and, luckily for her, once she saw it, it lost interest in her and took off into the brush. I would guess that the big cat was around 100 yards away from her, which is no great distance for a big cat to cover if it had wanted to. So, this grandmother headed back to her house and was very rattled. She also told me of a sighting two miles away of a black mountain lion near a rural family farm. She said that the farmer heard something outside and went to have a look at what it was and saw this huge black cat pulling one of his hunting dogs up a treat. However, when he went in to get his gun the cat had gone, leaving the dead dog up in the crotch of the treat.

However, I mentioned the possibility of black leopards having escaped from circuses, or exotic pets released into the wild, possibly breeding with a relic population of mountain lions in the Southern part of Illinois’ more wooded areas. And as unlikely as this might be when compared with the relic population and lack of fresh genetics producing a black color to the cats. Dragging a kill into a tree is very much leopard behavior. And all of the tree kill caches that I have heard of have been black cats. So not to say that it could not be a trait of the Eastern Mountain lion because they had not been studied very much before they were to all appearances wiped out. So, I am unsure of this behavior’s roots, but it sounds very much like leopard behavior to me or even unknown unstudied mountain lion behavior. Therefore, it is unknown to me.

Even if the population of mountain lions east of the Mississippi river is displaced Black Hills cats, I think that it could be instinctive memory. Much like how elephants know where water is even if they have never been in a place before. Almost like human mythology or race memory of places and events and why we identify with our history. These animals could feel an instinct to reclaim their old home range. Not to get all New Age, but the idea of species memory in Forteana should not be a foreign concept, considering the other crazy theories put forth on a daily basis.

I am pleased to see, but not particularly shocked, that the jaguar is reclaiming its home range, as shown in a recent bloggo posting, and it is not particularly surprising that they are not seen very often. This is an intelligent animal and a predator designed to be able to keep out of sight as if invisible. Because it was hunted to the brink of extinction (not by sport hunters, but in the manner that the Tasmanian wolf was killed off) I believe that there could be a species memory of mankind and our destructive nature warning it to avoid humans. So I am not shocked at why the Northern Mexican jaguar is rarely seen and even more so rarely seen in the American South West. But because we cannot see an animal does not mean that it is not there, it could simply mean that we are out classed by the animal and it is one step ahead of us on the track of mystery animals.

So, it is not much, but it is the best I have been able to come up with recently in this dry spell of freezing weather and high winds. So thank you for reading and I will attempt to post more often as my schooling schedule allows. It almost feels as though my bloggo should be sponsored by Folgers coffee and Marlboro cigarettes. So that’s all for now from Cryptid Illinois.


This particular blog posting is not so much about cryptozoology as it is an expression of a view point and I hope that you will at least read with an open mind and respect my expression of this view.

I am a hunter and for right or wrong, I have had a gun in my hand from the time I was 12 and I have been trying my best to live the American dream but I have been out in the forest from as far back as I can remember. I am a conservationist but those who have read my past writings will know by now that I am an avid hunter.

I feel no shame at all in saying that I do hunt for sport, among other reasons to hunt, but yes I hunt for sport and I see no problem with it when it is ethically done. Though my hunting for sport may be distasteful to some I am not going to discuss it because I do not force others to take my view. Right now I would just like to bring forth a common sense view point that might clear up some hostilities.

The first, conservationists were hunters, sport hunters. It would be a total copout for me to say, they only cared about conservation, because they didnt: they wanted something left to shoot.

But hunting does promote conservation.

In the late 1970s Kenya outlawed all hunting, making all hunting in Kenya after that point Poaching. When the animals had no monetary value and the natives had no choice but to poach for food, the game of Kenya was utterly slaughtered senselessly. The great hunting writer and conservationist Robert Ruark once wrote “that when you take away the way a man makes his living you had better give him something of value to replace it with.” Which means that you cannot take away the lifestyle of the hunting and gathering tribes and give them a plow and expect all to go smoothly.

I am not saying that they do not have the potential to be successful I hold great respect for the wonders of Tribal Africa. What I am saying is when the people no longer had a reason to protect and conserve their native wildlife it opened the door almost totally to mass black market poaching and senseless Killing of African game.

The idea that Hunting, or harvesting an animal from a population can somehow protect the others of that population may sound to some totally ludicrous. It is not so. Please allow me to explain.

  • Allowing a legally and strictly controlled harvest of a small quota of animals of a population at a designated fee provides revenue for the purchase of more land for the population to grow on.

  • The Jobs created by the controlled harvest of an animal provides jobs to those who might otherwise poach for a living or turn to other perhaps similarly sinister crimes against the world.

  • When a sport hunter harvests an animal that he has not only paid to hunt with no guarantee of achieving his trophy, he also provides a ready source of meat for the locals, and nothing is wasted.

  • The hunter him or herself might not use what is taken, but the locals do! The bone is ground into fertilizer, the meat is eaten and as I said already the other parts of the Safari provide paying work for the locals.

  • A Hunter should and most due attempt to take their animal in the most humane and fair chase way that they can, and equally importantly they strive to only take animals past their breeding maturity when they are no longer contributing to the gene pool. I know personally several professional Hunters currently working in Africa and some of them are also based in America.

Sport hunting however distasteful it may appear to some, is actually not the enemy of the natural world. The Enemy of the Natural world is actually militant poachers and corporate Deforestation! Which are two things that NO hunter agrees with!

I have already mentioned Kenya, however I would also like to put forth a case study of South Africa where sport hunting, and hunting in general is legal but strictly controlled. In the country of South Africa the large and small animals are thriving because of hunter’s dollars and proper management. The White Rhino can be legally harvested at an extremely high fee with no actual guarantee of a harvest , and the white Rhino Population is not only stable but is growing because the money generated by the extremely controlled - and please let me stress again and again the harvest is extremely strictly - harvest, that provides habitat for not only the rhino but other animals who would also share that habitat.

The controlled harvest of game by sport hunters helps contribute to conservation in South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In Namibia there has been an extremely controlled harvest of the lately endangered black rhino in very recent years, with a drawing, which means a hunter buys a chance and there is not only no guarantee that the animal would be harvested but there is also no guarantee that the sportsman will even be chosen for the hunt, and the revenue generated has been used to buy more habitat and contribute to more conservation efforts.

By extremely controlled in this usage I mean no more than 3 black rhino per year or less as determined by conservation officials.

Sport hunting when done correctly and ethically under legal sanction contributes to the conservation of the natural world because it provides not only a primal experience of human past as well as the knowledge that you are contributing to the active conservation of renewable natural recourses.

Now! Do not take away from this that I think sport hunting is the end all answer, I do not think this. I do not believe that we should delist critically endangered species such as the tiger. There is a difference between Conservation and Preservation, and a species must be preserved before it can be conserved.

The purpose of this article has been to explain my view which I have done to my best ability, and in truth SCI (Safari Club International), is one of the largest conservation organizations in the world. So before you totally condemn the sport hunter, understand that in their own way, they are making a contribution to the same cause.

I have written on this topic because it is one that I have had to constantly explain, and I find that very few people outside of the sporting community understand how hunting contributes to conservation. I wanted to express my view in an area that might not be friendly to the idea, but the more people can be helped to understand the more people can work together. So I hope you have read this article with an open mind, and that I will not be ostracized by the CFZ, but I do not try and force my way of life on anyone and I ask that they also respect my view in turn.

I am currently low on sightings and reports of unknown animals in Illinois and that is why this writing finds its way onto the page. But I will continue on the track of mystery animals in Illinois and around the world with the mindset of not only a Naturalist but a conservationist and a hunter. So thank you for reading and I hope the next time I write I will have something more cryptozoologically oriented.