Cougar-cide adds to list of Chicago’s sins

Cougar-cide adds to list of Chicago's sins

Posted: May 2, 2008

Jim Stingl


Wouldn't you just know it? Chicago went and killed our cougar.

We so enjoyed tracking this beautiful creature's movement through southern Wisconsin. Then it made the mistake of crossing the state line into Illinois and, kablooey, got gunned down by the Chicago cops.

They dragged out the usual excuse. "Initially the animal charged at officers," Cmdr. John Kenny said at a news conference.

Yeah, yeah, I know the male carnivore had wandered into a residential neighborhood, and tests later showed he had an empty stomach. But there was no way he was going to eat more than one or two flatlanders before moving on. Three tops. It's the wondrous cycle of the food chain.

DNA test results showing that our cougar was indeed the slain cougar were released Wednesday, coincidentally the same day as a brutal mauling of our defenseless home team by a wild pack of Cubs. Those two wrongs don't make a right, but the favorable outcome Thursday at Wrigley helped.

It's ironic that Illinoisans flood Wisconsin to commune with nature and enjoy free highways, but the minute one wild animal strays in their direction they mobilize the militia. Sweet home Chicago? Not if you happen to be a cougar on vacation.

When they heard it was a cougar in search of a mate, I'm guessing they thought they had an Ivana Trump on their hands. You can't be too careful when it comes to protecting vulnerable young men from such older predators.

But the victim was positively identified as the cougar who emigrated from Wisconsin. It was said to be 2 or 3 years old, 120 pounds, clawed and dangerous, and using two aliases: mountain lion and puma. There was an unfounded report it was the missing lynx.

The animal apparently came here from the Black Hills of South Dakota, doing its best along the way to avoid people and traffic and zookeepers. Wonder if he stopped at Wall Drug on the way. With all the billboards, it's hard to go by.

We haven't had cougars in Wisconsin since the early 1900s, and I'm not sure they're going to feel welcome here now when they hear what our neighbors to the south are capable of.

I agree with Doug Fendry, a wildlife supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "I think a lot of people are going to be saddened to find out this is our cougar, shot down in the streets of Chicago," he told the Chicago Tribune.

By now they're probably eating Chicago-style cougar hot dogs down there and mounting the beast's head at City Hall. An inquest is not expected.

I can understand how getting close enough to pepper-spray the cougar could be a bit hazardous. Tasering might not work either, but maybe Oprah could have talked him into surrendering and coming on the show. What about using a tranquilizer gun and dropping the cougar back in Wisconsin, where we manage not to murder big cats who come in peace? Plus we could use the help in controlling our deer population.

But now our furry friend has gone to wherever cougars go when they die. A landfill, I'm guessing. And knowing Illinois, they'll ship the remains up here to one of our landfills.

I'll miss those mysterious sightings and paw prints, but we have to face the cold reality. Like John Mellencamp, our cougar is gone and never coming back.

Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at


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