Bobcat Spotted, Photographed At Will County Nature Preserve

In a rare sighting in the suburbs, a bobcat was recently caught on camera – taking a walk at the Sand Ridge Savanna Nature Preserve in Will County. CBS 2's Marissa Parra reports.

Video Transcript

BRAD EDWARDS: Now, a rare sighting in the burbs. A bobcat caught on camera, taking a walk at the Sand Ridge Savanna Nature Preserve in Will County. CBS2's Marissa Parra on why it's so unusual to see one.

MARISSA PARRA: They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But for the wildlife ecologist who took this one, it's probably worth even more.

BECKY BLANKENSHIP: Is this actually happening? Yes, it's a bobcat!

MARISSA PARRA: Her excitement is because bobcat sightings typically only come to an area maybe once every few years. Becky Blankenship has now had three-- this one within the last few weeks at one Will County forest preserve, and these September photos from another of a family.

BECKY BLANKENSHIP: I had those kittens playing with thistle and pouncing on each other. I ended up getting two weeks worth of photos of the mother and her kittens, and it was so adorable.

MARISSA PARRA: Just getting the photo is an art.

BECKY BLANKENSHIP: This is what we attached to a tree.

MARISSA PARRA: The cameras are designed to blend in, so that elusive creatures like the bobcat don't even know they're there.

BECKY BLANKENSHIP: The only native wild cat to Illinois, the bobcat gets its name from it's pretty obvious bobbed tail there.

MARISSA PARRA: The species was once considered threatened. The population has since rebounded, but don't get your hopes up on seeing more of them. Unless they're sick, it's really rare to spot them-- partially because they're typically awake when you're not.

It's hard to get an exact population count because they're so difficult to track, which is what makes these photos so exciting. They're not just cute, they're the first pieces of evidence that bobcats are among us in these preserves of Will County.

BECKY BLANKENSHIP: It could have to do with the amount of trail cameras out, but I'd like to think that our bobcat populations are gaining in size.

MARISSA PARRA: Aside from basking in her triumph, she hopes there are more sightings to come.

BECKY BLANKENSHIP: It's a good sign for us. It tells us that what we're doing for habitat management is working. The sites that they were at are pretty high-quality and are already undergoing restoration.

MARISSA PARRA: Marissa Parra, CBS2 News.

BRAD EDWARDS: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says there could be up to 5,000 bobcats in Illinois, but no sightings are in the southern part of the state.