Possible mountain lion sighting in Columbia


Columbia police were notified of a possible mountain lion sighting in the city Thursday night, May 5.

A resident called police about 8:30 p.m. to report what they believed was a mountain lion seen by multiple people along the Gedern Trail, which runs through the Gedern Estates subdivision and connects to the GM&O Heritage Trail along the former railroad right-of-way in Columbia.

The caller said there were no photos or video taken of the alleged mountain lion, police said, and a search by officers in the area of the sighting was unsuccessful. Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer Don Schachner said he was aware of this report but without visual evidence, it’s hard to verify the sighting.

Schachner said he will look at paw prints or images of paw prints if anyone has any they are trying to verify as coming from a mountain lion. He can be contacted at 618-317-2658 or Donald.Schachner@illinois.gov.

Columbia police did say a suspected mountain lion was observed on security video footage this past October and November roaming a residential construction site near the corner of Rueck and Palmer roads, which isn’t far from Thursday’s possible sighting.

The contractor working at that site at the time contacted the Republic-Times on Monday to confirm that his security camera captured multiple images of what may be an adult mountain lion and two cubs roaming the construction site grounds of the future Walnut Ridge subdivision. He sent three images from this past October to the Republic-Times, which can be seen below. This contractor estimated the suspected adult mountain lion in these images as being 30-plus inches tall.

Schachner said he has seen the images provided by the contractor to the Republic-Times.

Addressing a longstanding rumor that IDNR secretly released mountain lions into the wild in Monroe County several years ago to help control the deer population, Schachner said that is “absolutely not true.”

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