Monday, October 1, 2012

Cougars in Chicagoland: Feeling at Home

A cougar has been sighted multiple times in Chicago's North Shore neighborhoods.

No, not Courteney Cox, but the fourth-largest cat on earth (8 feet long, 200 lbs), also known as a mountain lion, puma, or catamount.

Two months ago, I left Boulder, Colorado with my wife and kids. We moved to the Windy City (Chi-Town, Chicagoland, that "toddling town" Frank Sinatra & Tony Bennett were singing know the place). Needless to say, when we left Boulder and moved here we weren't thinking that we'd need to keep our eyes open for cougars in our new neighborhood in Evanston near the North Shore.

But they are here. First there was a sighting in Schaumburg. Then, two more sightings in Glencoe and Northfield. And don't forget, Chicago Police shot a cougar they had cornered in an alley of the Roscoe Village neighborhood back in 2008. That's enough evidence for me. Those sneaky devils are here.

Bad things can happen when cougars and people are living near one another. Just ask the boy who was walking with his family on Boulder's Flagstaff Mountain in 2006 when he was attacked by a mean, hungry cougar that dragged him away by the head as his family fought back for the boy's life. (True story: Click here to read The Denver Post's article on this happy-hike-turned-nightmare.)

The past two months have not been easy for me and my family. Moving from Boulder to Evanston has forced each one of us to accept many changes. We are adjusting to our new life in this city. Some days are harder than others. But at least one thing has stayed the same: We must still keep our eyes open for mountain lions. And in a strange way, that is helping me feel "at home" here.

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