People out walking in Oak Park may have encountered an unusual sight. A lynx appears to have made the village its home. After multiple reports of sightings, the Oak Park Public Health Department has been tracking the medium-sized wild cat for about a week.

“It seems to be sticking around,” said Public Health Director Theresa Chapple-McGruder. “Which is interesting because they tend to travel and can travel up to 70 miles a day.”

The cat appears to have gotten comfortable, according to Chapple-McGruder. The health department, under which animal control duties fall, are tracing the lynx’s movements to determine where the cat might be headed. Where the cat came from is a mystery.

“It’s kind of roaming throughout the community,” said Chapple-McGruder.

Larger than the average housecat but smaller than a coyote, the lynx stands at about two feet tall and has ears topped with tufts of black fur, a characteristic trait. There is no evidence to suggest there might be multiple lynxes in Oak Park.

Chapple-McGruder told Wednesday Journal the lynx has not exhibited any aggressive behavior at this time and appears to be quite skittish around humans. However, it might attack if it feels cornered.

“It will only bother people if it feels bothered,” said the public health director.

People are directed to stay away from it and to keep lights on when going outside at night. Those who do have a run in with the lynx are urged to report the location of the encounter to the health department either by calling or by sending an email to the health@oak-park.us.

Lynxes are predatory creatures and Chapple-McGruder believes Oak Park has plenty of squirrels and rabbits to keep the cat satisfied. However, she also advises keeping small pets close and not letting them outside by unsupervised as a precaution.

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