I've always wanted to see a cougar in the wild, but they're notoriously reclusive — I've talked to many grizzled hikers who've never seen one in the wild. But maybe I should just try looking in a different place.
Last night, Chicago's finest shot a 150-pound cougar on the city's North Side. The police had been trying to clear the streets of civilians while waiting for animal control, but when they cornered the animal, it attacked and the cops shot it in self-defense. Officials on the scene said the animal was "5 feet tall" (wha?) and looked healthy:
"It doesn't look like it's a very thin cat," said Mark Rosenthal of Cook County Animal Care and Control. "It looks like it's got good flesh on it -- it was eating well."
Local residents helped locate the big cat, and were understandably "amazed." Police and animal control had been fielding cougar sightings in the north suburbs for the last month. They haven't confirmed whether this is the same animal, so they're urging citizens to be careful not to approach any large cats and call officials if they spot another mountain lion.
Nobody's sure whether this is an escaped captive cougar or an actual wild specimen; if it's the latter, it's an amazing testament to the resurgence of the species.
One thing's for sure: Living in the mountains has done me no good so far. Next time I feel like searching for apex predators, I'm strapping on my boots, packing my tent, grabbing my camera, and heading for a nice hidden spot near Wrigley Field. — Ted Alvarez