NE 110 is one of 19 young male cougars trapped and radio collared in the Niobrara river valley in Northern Nebraska in November 2021. Eighteen of those young males stayed in Nebraska. One did not, 110, made his way south and east in search of a mate and a home range. Swimming the Missouri river, he continued east through Iowa and crossing the Mississippi river into Illinois. If he would have gone 15 degrees north or south, he would have bypassed the city, but he headed straight toward Springfield.
Wildlife biologists were tracking him from the time he was collared in Nebraska and kept adjoining state authorities aware of his movements, so it was no surprise when he arrived on the outskirts of Springfield. Closely watched by Illinois and federal officials, he came to Interstate 55 where he stopped for two days before crossing and moving into densely populated neighborhoods. State and federal officials decided he now “posed an imminent threat to residents” and had to be removed. Nebraska would not allow him back in their state and Illinois did not want him.
Things were not looking good for 110.
Joe Taft who founded and runs the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana got the call from DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and USDA Wildlife. “Can you take a Mountain Lion?” Joe responded yes immediately. 110 was darted, his radio collar removed, loaded into a travel crate, then an animal control vehicle and given a police escort out of Springfield another 175 miles east to Center Point, Indiana, the home of EFRC.
Upon arrival he was placed in a quarantine area that previously held cougars. He was immobilized again for a complete medical check and to examine a scar on his back. The scar ran the full length of his back, most likely from trying to get under a barbed wire fence or through a storm drain and healed without infection. He passed his health check with flying colors, treated for tick infestation, vaccinated then taken to his winter enclosure. Around 2 yrs old and not fully grown he is close to 300 lbs. the largest mountain lion we have ever seen.
Free from ticks and traffic he has quickly adjusted to a high protein meat diet and awareness of his keepers. The construction has begun on a 50,000 sq ft enclosure near the site of the new clinic where he will have an enriched habitat and a lot of privacy. His 800 mile journey across four states, for over a year, travelling alone, crossing four interstate highways and three rivers (Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois) is now being rewarded with a lifetime home in a natural setting.
In 2018 we expanded our assistance to include all big cats.
Tigers, Lions, leopards, Cheetahs, Jaguars and Mountain Lions
110 is a lucky mountain lion and Tigers in America was happy to help him.