CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A mountain lion struck and killed by a vehicle has been delivered to the U of I for a full necropsy and DNA analysis.

The analysis will provide valuable information to biologists about the animal, its place of origin, and exploratory movements across the Midwest.

(Whiteside County Cougar Trail Cam)

Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials announced the mountain lion was killed on Interstate 88 in Dekalb County on Sunday. The animal was then transferred by the Illinois State Police to an IDNR wildlife biologist before arriving at U of I.

IDNR experts believe it may be the same mountain lion that was captured on a trail camera on private property in Whiteside County in late September and confirmed by wildlife biologists from IDNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

IDNR is also monitoring another mountain lion reported in western Illinois in early October.

Mountain lions were eliminated from Illinois prior to the 1870s due to habitat loss and overharvest. Although extremely rare in Illinois, mountain lion sightings have been confirmed in Illinois during the past few decades consisting of younger animals, typically originating from a population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

IDNR receives numerous reports of mountain lions in the state each year. Most cases are mistaken with other animals such as feral cats and bobcats. Regardless, IDNR documents and investigates all reports by the public.

Mountain lions have been protected in Illinois since 2015, and it is unlawful to hunt, kill, or harass them unless they pose an imminent threat to a person or property. The IDNR reminds the public that it is very rare for a mountain lion to pose a threat to people or property.

If encountered by a mountain lion, and the animal does not immediately flee, IDNR encourages people to stand tall, wave their arms, throw stones or other objects, and yell. IDNR also said to not run, but slowly back away from the site, keeping an eye on the animal.

The public can report large carnivore sightings here.