Experts Aren't Sure Origin of Paw Prints

Prints aren't right size to be from cougar

By BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Sep 16, 2009  |  Updated 6:22 PM CDT
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Cougar Wasn't a Cougar, Say Experts

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(Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images)

Experts aren't sure exactly what they're from, but paw prints examined after reports of a big cat roaming around Wheaton aren't likely from a cougar.

Not only are authorities not certain the print impressions came from whatever animal was sighted, they're also not the right size to be a cougar print, the Curator of Mammals at Brookfield Zoo, Jay Petersen, told the Chicago Tribune.

The prints initially appeared to be "very canine-like," said Mike Brown, the lead keeper of large carnivores at Brookfield Zoo, but the casts were missing nail marks.

"The fact that we didn't see any nail marks would lead one to think it might be more of a feline. But there is no way we can say conclusively one way or the other what it was," Brown told the Daily Herald.

"But that could be how the prints were taken. I'm not sure," Peterson said.

There have been at least three big cat sightings since Sept. 4, when a jogger claimed to have seen a large black cat larger than her 60 pound dog roaming around a bridge in Northside Park in Wheaton.

On Monday, a man claimed he saw a big cat while he was driving through Naperville. Another report of a sighting came Tuesday, again in Wheaton. That's where experts on Wednesday examined prints.
 

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