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Suspected Cougar Spotted In Winnetka

me-ow (MIGUEL ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

me-ow (MIGUEL ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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WINNETKA, Ill. (CBS) — Police say a cougar may be roaming around the affluent North Shore suburb of Winnetka.

The sighting is unconfirmed, but police say they received a report that a cougar may have been spotted around 8:30 p.m. Monday along the 1300 block of Willow Road, adjacent to the Village Public Works Facility, a release from police said.

The caller provided a detailed description of the animal that warranted further investigation, police said. Winnetka police are now working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and a wildlife expert to determine whether the animal was, in fact, a cougar.

This is the third time this year that suspected cougars have been seen along the North Shore. The other two sightings were both in Glencoe, where witnesses spotted a large cat-type animal resembling a cougar near the Lake Michigan bluff and shoreline.

The first sighting occurred on the morning of April 15 on the bluff below the Hazel Avenue overlook in Glencoe. A neighbor on an early-morning walk found the suspected cougar lying down, but the animal quickly stood up and vanished into the heavy surrounding brush.

The second sighting was on July 26, when a Glencoe Public Safety employee saw a large cat that was believed to be a cougar walk across the street at Dell Place and Lakeside Terrace, and walk down toward the lake.

Glencoe police were never able to find tracks or other identifying evidence of the cougars. But they did learn from the Cook County Forest Preserve that two more suspected cougars had been spotted in the Skokie Lagoon area in July.

Wild cougars have been making headlines in the Chicago area ever since a high-profile incident back on April 14, 2008, in the Roscoe Village neighborhood.

That day, a cougar was spotted in the 3400 block of North Hoyne Avenue. Chicago Police officers opened fire and killed the animal, which they said appeared ready to attack.

CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis reported last month that Illinois has had three confirmed cougar sightings in the last 10 years. Since 2008, Wisconsin has had even more confirmed cougar sightings – totaling six.

Adrian Wydeven, a mammal ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said a DNA analysis of the Chicago cougar had been spotted previously on a farm in Wisconsin, and most likely originated from the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Cougars are also living and breeding near major cities like Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles. And closer to home, there have been many more confirmed sightings in Missouri and Iowa.

If you encounter one, the experts say you should stand your ground, act “big,” wave your arms and yell.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.