A cougar has once again been reported seen near the border of Winnetka and Northfield, less than a mile south from the location of a reported Sept. 3 sighting.
Kenilworth resident Anne Hinkamp said she was driving westbound on Winnetka Avenue last Thursday at 10 a.m., when she saw a creature cross the blacktop in front of her car, just west of Hibbard Road.
“I saw something run across the road in front of me, about a half block away, I guess,” Hinkamp said. “It was definitely big enough to catch my eye, and I wasn’t sure what it was at first. But I was getting closer, and it was still going across, and it was trotting, not running that fast. It had such a round head that it was definitely a cat-like creature. A round head and a long tail that was curled a little bit at the end. I knew it wasn’t a coyote or a fox, because I’ve seen those. This was clearly a big cat.”
Hinkamp said the animal came out of the forest preserve on the south side of the road and headed north, across the street, into the preserve on the other side, near the river that runs alongside the North Branch Trail.
On Sept. 3, Winnetka Police received a report of a cougar sighting in the 1300 block of Willow Road, a little more than a half mile due north of where Hinkamp reported sighting the creature. The previous sighting also took place within the stretch of forest preserves and parks that cover that region.
Hinkamp said that as she approached the spot where the animal had entered the forest, she lost sight of the cat.
“I was never quite close enough to pull over or to stop because it was right in front of me,” Hinkamp said, “but I could clearly see the shape of it. And it was all one color. Kind of a cream color. No spots or anything. Not a bushy tail. Short hair. I have a chocolate [Labrador] and it was bigger than my dog, for sure. It was so obvious that it wasn’t a dog.”
Hinkamp said that she did not report the incident to authorities, partially because she did not know who to call and partially because she thought enough reports had been filed that residents were well aware that a cougar might be in the area.
Wilmette Police Chief Brian King said that anyone who spots the cougar in the future should call 911, and the police would send a squad car to investigate.
King also stated that due to the lack of reports of deer carcasses that would normally accompany multiple cougar sightings, he was still unconvinced that a cougar was in the region.