Check out these places and more in Michael Kleen’s Haunting Illinois: A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird and Wild Places of the Prairie State! Bobcats look like common house cats, but are about twice the size, says the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. One common element in all the sightings was that they occurred near railroad tracks. Shrinking territory has driven out some species, such as the gray wolf, mountain lions and the American elk. They eat plants and insects and can live up to 10 years. Haunting Illinois challenges you to get off the couch and start exploring our wonderful State of Illinois. The striped bark scorpion is an unfortunately common scorpion found in the midwestern United... 3. A bill to allow hunting of bobcats was passed by the General Assembly in 2015 and now awaits action by Gov. In 2008, a cougar was shot and killed near the Chicago River in the Chicago neighborhood of Roscoe Village. The eastern wild turkey is the only turkey species found in Illinois, says the U of … Never-the-less, several have been spotted in Illinois. On April 25, 1973, it attacked a young boy who was playing in his yard, then attempted to break into a nearby home. The timber rattlesnake is an intimidating looking snake with a large, wide head and bright... 2. Between 1879 and 1968, nearly a 90-year period, fishermen in Perry County spun yarns about a serpent that dwelled in the murky waters of Stump Pond. Like Peoria’s Cole Hollow Road Monster, the Murphysboro creature was described as being seven feet tall and covered in matted, white fur. Part of HuffPost News. Others, including the passenger pigeon, have become extinct. It was described as a three-toed beast, eight to ten feet tall, with a coat of thick white fur. On several occasions, it was heard bellowing “like a bull.” In 1867, a fisherman named Joseph Muhlke encountered the Lake Michigan Monster a mile and a half from shore near Chicago’s south side. The animals live throughout the state and their population has grown larger today than it was at the first arrival of Europeans in the area. Coyotes are members of the dog family that have gray or reddish bushy fur and usually weigh between 20 and 40 pounds. Here are 9 animal species native to Illinois, meaning they have lived in the state without being introduced by humans: The white-tailed deer is the state animal of Illinois and is protected under the state's wildlife code. There are an estimated 5,000 individuals in the state. It is protected as an endangered fish in 19 states and is seeing a resurgence in its population. Bison are the biggest mammals to have lived in Illinois. Recently, it has made a comeback into its old habitat. Some fishermen encountered it more than once, and speculated that there must be a breeding population. They can be legally hunted in the fall and winter. Mallard ducks are the ancestors of almost every other domestic duck breed. Lake sturgeon are the biggest species of fish in North America. The next night, a young boy and two of his neighbors saw the creature when it wandered through their backyards. Illinoisans are discouraged from approaching coyotes and should keep an eye on small outdoor pets in the evening in areas where coyotes may be present. At each encounter, the Farmer City Monster fled as soon as it had been spotted. The Wildlife Directory says they live in open meadows of crop fields and live much of the time underground. For nearly three decades, from about 1940 to the late 1960s, residents of the Gooseville area near Bethalto, Illinois discovered large animal tracks along Indian Creek. The family of fish to which they belong has existed for more than 135 million years, says National Geographic. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! It is a genetic anomaly for a wild cat to be jet black in color, and no black cougars have ever been captured or photographed (most “black panthers” are actually jaguars or leopards). Rick Rainbow, an Indiana resident and news director for WWKI Radio, managed to record its cries. They live in forests throughout Illinois. They live in open water lakes and ponds in Illinois, and are especially common in suburban areas in the northern two-thirds of the state. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. For nearly three decades, from about 1940 to the late 1960s, residents of the Gooseville area near Bethalto, Illinois discovered large animal tracks along Indian Creek. Three years in the making, the 3rd edition of Hunting Illinois is your ticket to adventure in your own backyard. No witnesses ever came forward claiming to have seen the beast, and after many years, the Gooseville Bear vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared. They live throughout the state in rural and urban areas and are especially common in the north. They are nocturnal and can climb trees, where they eat birds and squirrels. They live in wooded areas, but usually establish nests near tree lines. The eastern wild turkey is the only turkey species found in Illinois, says the U of I Wildlife Directory. Bruce Rauner. At least one eyewitness, a man named Texas John Huffer, filmed a group of the birds at Lake Shelbyville in 1977. During the 1970s, the Illinois River Valley was abuzz with sightings of the Cole Hollow Road Monster, or Cohomo, for short. Evidently the snake, which had been spotted by several other farmers, fled before Smithson could return with help. They are gray in color and eat snails, fish eggs and other creatures from the bottoms of lakes and rivers. Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in Illinois? Until one is captured or photographed in the wild, we will never know for sure. They have state protection status under the Illinois Wildlife Code alongside their protection under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. From the Lake Michigan Monster, to thunderbirds, to hairy bipeds, and the Enfield Horror, which one will prove to be the most unusual and terrifying of them all? With its hulking shape and bright yellow eyes, the Farmer City Monster was one of the oddest creatures to lumber across Illinois during the summer of 1970. They are protected under Illinois law, but nuisance animals can be removed with a permit from the Department of Natural Resources. The U of I Wildlife Directory says they are the only Illinois mammals with red fur. Woodchucks are rodents that sometimes also are called ground hogs. They eat various types of vegetation, such as grass and dandelions, and will take garden crops, says the U of I. When the lake was partially drained in 1968, locals discovered catfish that weighed over 30 pounds, so it is possible that the “Stump Pond Serpent” was a giant catfish. The tracks resembled those of a bear, although no bears are known to live in the area. The creature was described as having a thick, green body with black fins. Panther is the popular name given to the North American Cougar, which was once prevalent all over the continent, but was hunted virtually to extinction in the eastern half of the United States. 5 Of The Most Dangerous Illinois Animals 1. They were removed in 1999. Police officers found several tracks at the scene of the first sighting, and even heard its “inhuman” cry. It was large enough to rock boats. The biggest threat to adults is car collisions, not other predators. Eastern wild turkey. The Wildlife Directory advises Illinoisans to "make a lot of noise" and "wave your arms" to chase away an aggressive turkey if it tries to intimidate you. He was able to provide a very detailed description and claimed that its head came within 20 feet of his boat. Illinoisans usually are discouraged from approaching red foxes, as they can carry rabies. Woodchucks can be hunted in rural parts of Illinois with a permit. They have wingspans of up to 37 inches and males have a distinctive green head. Between 1867 and 1890, newspapers reported numerous encounters with a sea serpent just off shore in Lake Michigan. In 2001, a black panther was seen on three separate occasions in Monroe County and as recently as 2007, a black panther was seen around Bloomington. It was last seen on August 16, 1970, when it ran across the road in front of a truck near Waynesville. The Gooseville Bear was a creature known only by what it left behind. In 2005 Tim Pruitt of Alton caught a 124 pound blue catfish in the Mississippi River. After a few weeks of intense scrutiny, the Murphysboro Mud Monster disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived. They live all over Illinois, mostly in "semi-open country," but can be found living even in the urban landscape of Chicago. Black bears, which the University of Illinois Wildlife Directory says were common in Illinois until 1870, currently do not have any permanent populations in Illinois, though three individual bears have been spotted since 2008. Today, Stump Pond is a part of Pyramid State Recreation Area, which consists of land formerly owned by a coal strip-mining company. They are the largest members of the squirrel family in Illinois, weighing up to 14 pounds. Everyone who saw it noted its glowing eyes, but it was not an aggressive creature. They are known to howl and meow. In the spring of 1973, a bizarre and deformed creature terrorized the community of Enfield. Also, be sure to check four species which are invasive to Illinois, including the scary-looking Sea lamprey. The wilds of Southern Illinois have long produced tales of strange creatures, and the Mud Monster (or “Big Muddy”) is no exception. This beast was more credible than most, since eyewitnesses included the Farmer City police officer tasked with tracking it down. Use our Sound Off tool. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Cottontails get their name from the short, fluffy white tails that contrast with the rest of their brow fur. Top 10 Ghost Tours In The US For The Brave Ones, Top 10 Halloween Food Ideas For Your Party. Others, such as certain kinds of rats and mice, only showed up with European settlers. They live throughout the whole state, but are most common in the southwest parts of the state. They can grow to be more than six feet long, weigh up to 200 pounds and live to be 150 years old. 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