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Are large predators returning to Illinois?

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE - Cougars, wolves, and bears have all been spotted in Illinois over the past few years. It is important for people to understand why they are hearing about these mammals in the news more often.

Animals do not think the way humans do, but people tend to attribute to them human traits and reasons for their actions. Animals do not know they have a tendency to scare us, especially if they are large and high on the food chain. University of Illinois Extension Educator Peggy Doty will offer “Large Predators Return…Or Are They?” from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the DeKalb County Extension office, 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore. This program will focus on the behaviors of cougars, wolves, and black bears and why they may be visiting us again. The fee is $5.

There are many reasons, scientific and unknown, as to why people are starting to see the occasional lone large predator in Illinois.

“We need to remember that before we settled the area in the early 1800s, these animals lived here. Our cultural advancements and changes have escorted many of these animals away from what used to be their native habitat,” Doty said.

Doty will talk about the local habitat’s inability to sustain complete populations of these large mammals, but those that can adapt to less-fitting ecosystems may try to spend some time back in their original homeland.

“These animals aren’t planning a covert return and takeover of our communities; they simply are trying to adjust to changes in their current environments which can lead them our direction,” Doty said.

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