An Illinois conservation officer is under fire after shooting a male cougar that was discovered hiding near a farmhouse about 130 miles west of Chicago.
The officer shot the cougar on Wednesday after deciding that its presence threatened the safety of the residents of the farmhouse, reports the Chicago Tribune. But many mammal experts -- including Bruce Patterson of Chicago's Field Museum -- don't believe deadly force was necessary to control the situation.
"I can’t figure out why this animal had to be shot," Patterson told the Tribune.
Authorities were contacted after residents saw the cougar running through a cornfield, heading toward the farmhouse. It was discovered hiding under a corn crib. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the farmer asked officers to kill the cougar. After the animal was shot by the first officer, a second officer fired additional rounds to ensure it was dead.
According to the IDNR, officers could have also chosen to let the cougar remain in the area or have tranquilized the cat so it could moved to another location. Though IDNR officers aren't properly trained to tranquilize animals themselves, a veterinarian could have been contacted to do it. But the agency stresses that due to possible safety risks to the officers and animal, this wasn't the best option in Wednesday’s incident.