By Matt Schury
A cougar may be on the prowl in Kendall County.
The possible big cat sighting has some residents who live near the Kendall County Hoover Forest Preserve off Fox Road near Yorkville concerned.
Sue Corredato and her husband, Tom, were having coffee in their home around 7 a.m. last Saturday morning when Corredato says she spotted the animal walk through her neighbor’s backyard.
“I said, ‘Oh, my God that’s a cougar,’ and I thought—I’m not letting my cats out and I’m not going out either,” Corredato said.
Corredato explained that she has been watching a large number of deer pass through their yard this winter in the early morning and late afternoon hours.
Their house is near Hoover and the property line backs up to railroad tracks in a heavily wooded area.
“In case of some accident or attack, we thought we better report it,” she said.
She said the cougar was unmistakable in size and gait.
“It walked toward us. At first I thought it was a deer. It was tan and it wasn't walking like a deer, it was walking like one of my cats, except it was way bigger,” Corredato recalls. “Then Tom got the binoculars and we said, ‘Wait a minute what is this?’ We could hardly believe what we were seeing.”
She said they watched it walk for about two minutes before losing track of it.
The animal was a dark tan with faint spots on the side, muscular with a short stout neck.
Corredato says the big cat came from the west and walked east across the backyard of their neighbors, Tom and Judy Gilmour. Judy Gilmour is a Kendall County Board member.
She called Judy Gilmour and told her what they had seen.
“At first you can't believe what you’re seeing because it's so rare,” Corredato said. “My heart was just beating and pounding, it was exciting and scary at the same time.”
Corredato said they have lived in their home on Fox Glen Court for 20 years and have never seen as many deer as they have this winter.
“This winter was extremely exceptional because there were like herds of them eating the backyard grass,” Corredato said. “I didn't want the cougar to be shot or hurt in any way but they are very shy and very hard to spot, apparently they are very rare.”
Corredato said that she read that a large collection of deer attracts predators, which might explain the cougar on the prowl.
Gilmour said she couldn’t recall ever seeing a cougar in the 13 years she has lived in her home. The animal didn't leave any footprints.
“I did not see it myself,” Gilmour said. “They're so elusive”
The University of Illinois Extension office’s wildlife directory describes cougars as tan with rounded ears and a long tail tipped with black.
Cougars have an average length of 60 to 95 inches and the adult males weigh 115 to 160 pounds.
The Extension Office describes the Cougars as having been eradicated from Illinois at the end of the 19th century. However, there have been three confirmed sightings of cougars in Illinois in the last 10 years.
The most recent sighting occurred in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago in 2008. That animal was shot and killed by police, the Extension Office’s website indicates.