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COLUMBIA — The Monroe County Sheriff's Department confirmed Thursday afternoon a big cat was spotted in Columbia.

Images of the animal were captured on Portial Campbell's surveillance camera in Columbia five days ago. Monroe County Sheriff's Department Maj. Chris Lutz confirmed the sighting Thursday afternoon.

"There's people saying it's a mountain lion, a cougar, a bobcat ... I looked at the video, and I think it's probably a bobcat," he said. "But when you're looking at a night vision black and white video it's pretty difficult to confirm 'yes, this is that' or 'yes, this is that.'"

Lutz said his department has not received any additional calls about the animal since the initial sighting.

"I have not seen anything more than what's been posted on Facebook. There was no report actually filed with our office," Lutz said. "When I watched the video on Facebook, it was dated right before midnight on the 11th or the 12th. There was no call on that particular day or the following day to our office that I'm aware of."

Moving forward, Lutz said unless circumstances change, his department will let the animal be.

"Barring something where the animal is attacking livestock or turns aggressive toward people, we're not going to take any action. It's going to be treated like any other wild animal — it just walks on and goes about its way," he said.

The BND reached out to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Thursday afternoon and is awaiting further information.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed into law a pledge to eliminate the state's climate-damaging carbon emissions within a quarter-century. READ MORE HERE.

This is just the latest of several possible recent sightings — both alleged and confirmed — of large animals in southwestern Illinois.

In June, a black bear was initially spotted in rural Waterloo before making his way to Clinton, Washington, Franklin and then White counties.

Then, in July, a Godfrey Parks employee believes he spotted a small black bear at LaVista Park off Illinois 3. The IDNR never officially confirmed that.

In August, a jogger in Madison County claimed he saw a mountain lion and claimed he saw the animal run towards the public works complex near the intersection of Albers Lane and Whispering Oaks Drive. The IDNR never confirmed that sighting, either.

This article originally ran on pantagraph.com.

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