BETHALTO, Ill – According to the Bethalto Police Department, a resident has reported a sighting of a cougar/mountain lion.
The Bethalto resident stated that he was out for a run at around 2:30 a.m. when he spotted the animal. He said it ran north bound from the intersection into the woods along the west side of the roadway towards the public works complex.
The police department has reported the sighting to the Illinois Department of Natural Resource. Bethalto police say there is no knowledge of other reported sightings around the area, though they have conducted a canvas of the place in question. No evidence of a cougar/mountain lion presence in the area was found.
Bethalto police say that there is no evidence of an established cougar population in the area. These animals are known to have tremendously large territory, and if a cougar was truly sighted it was likely traveling the edges of its territory.
Police ask that it residents find any evidence of a mountain lion presence that they contact local police.
The Bethalto Police Department advises as following:
Human encounters with cougars/mountain lions are rare and the risk of attack is extremely small. If lions had a natural urge to hunt people, there would be attacks every day. Authorities say people are more likely to killed by a pet dog that attacked by a mountain lion.
However, when near cat country be alert. Do not walk alone between dusk and dawn when lions are most active. Keep children and pets close and do not approach.
When encountering a mountain lion stop and do not run. Maintain eye contact, stand tall, and look bigger by opening your coat or raising your arms. Slowly wave your arms and speak firmly. Throw items at the lion if needed. Be patient, give the lion time and room to move on. Do not turn you back on the lion. If retreating, do so by walking backwards while maintaining eye contact with the cat.
In the rare occurrence of an attack, fight back. Most people succeed in driving the mountain lion away.