The Cougar Network has documented many confirmations from the states of Iowa and Missouri in the western part of the Central Midwest Region (See interactive map below). To get detailed information for a particular incident, click on the respective dot. A summary of the evidence from each state can be found below the map.
Iowa and Missouri, the western part of the region, are adjacent to the prairie states that appear to have thin cougar populations expanding from the west.
Iowa, which is adjacent to South Dakota and Nebraska with acknowledged populations, has had a number of recent confirmed sightings, and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) suspects the presence of transient animals passing through the state. Three apparently wild cougars have been killed in the state since August 2001.
Similarly, there have been 21 confirmations in Missouri, eight in 2011. It appears that the rate of new confirmations occurring is accelerating.. Four of those occurred in September, 2011. Although there have been many confirmations and they seem to be increasing with time, there is still no evidence of a breeding population.
Illinois has had three confirmations, the most recent one in early 2008 being the most extraordinary -- a cougar shot in Chicago! DNA analysis said this was the same cat that had been confirmed earlier in southeast Wisconsin. In July 2002, a male cougar was killed by a train in Randolph County in the southwestern portion of the state. Analysis of the carcass indicated it was of North American genotype and that it had been feeding on white tailed deer. There was no evidence that this animal was ever in captivity. This appears to be a transient which traveled through Missouri which is just across the border. A second male cougar was killed by a bowhunter in December 2004 in New Boston (northwestern, ILL).
There is one recent confirmation in Indiana in May, 2010. This could be an escaped captive from a few years ago that succeeded in surviving in the wild.
The remaining two central midwestern states, Kentucky and Ohio, have had some sighting reports but no confirmations to date.
The presence of a number of confirmations in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois in recent years suggests that transients are starting to reach those states from the adjacent prairie states which themselves are in the process of being repopulated. Except for the recent confirmation in Indiana, there is no hard evidence of cougars in the other states in this region.