Even since a cougar was shot by Chicago police in a tightly packed urban area—and to be clear, the Czar is discussing the mountain lion puma concolor and not Demi Moore—residents around the Southwest corner of Lake Michigan have been attuned to this very interesting animal. Reports continue to persist, Bigfoot-like, that at least one cougar has taken up shop in the posh northern suburbs of Lake County, and as recently as last week, some reasonably credible reports indicate they are in DuPage County, which contains the Czar’s beloved home of Muscovy (which kneels in terror at his feet, by the way).
Illinois law enforcement and game wardens are generally quite quick to dismiss these claims, saying there is no positive indication of a cougar, that people are seeing dogs or deer or coyotes and mistaking them for cougars, or are at the very most seeing bobcats and freaking out.
Your Czar thinks that cougars are pretty distinctive. While people may make this mistake, and may indeed imagine the whole thing in some waking dream, some of the details are unusually specific, such as describing the position of the tail when the animal fled (cougar tails are distinct, and use their long tails in a specific manner when running), and so on. Dogs do not use their tails to steer and align the spine as some folks describe. Deer of course are large enough, but have an obviously distinct shape to the legs, neck, and head. And coyotes have such a unique trot (the Czar has encountered them personally in the wild on three occasions) that it is improbable that someone could see a coyote and describe it in such specific cougar-ish terms.
So as skeptical as the Czar is overall, he thinks many of the cougar claims are worth serious consideration. And indeed, wildlife experts have concluded the idea is quite possible.
Readers who fall into the newly expanded cougar regions should be advised that cougars are very much dangerous. While wolves and coyotes are generally scared of people and a threat only to pets, not so of cougars; the latter is perfectly capable and willing to attack and kill people. Fortunately, the food supply is good, and therefore an attack on people is unlikely at this time, but do not underestimate these kitties.