CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois has an interesting task on its hands. A mountain lion was hit and died on an interstate in Northern Illinois on Sunday. 

Officials with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said the lion was killed on I-88 in DeKalb County.

Chris Jacques, Wildlife Disease, Large Carnivore, and Invasive Species Program Manager with the IDNR, said this is rare for Illinois. In the past two decades, he said there have been eight mountain lion sightings. 

U of I is now trying to find answers about the most recent one. Jacques said they will use that information to learn as much about the animal as they can. 

“Glean information about his health status, information about his health status, and any parasites or diseases that he may have been predisposed to,” he said. “We can glean that information from serum samples, blood, that we collect.” 

Jacques said they’ll also learn his age, diet and where he might’ve traveled from. 

He said in the past, mountain lions have traveled from the Black Hills of South Dakota to Illinois. He also knows of mountain lions from the Black Hills exploring as far as Oklahoma and Connecticut. 

In the future, Jacques said they plan to save the skull and mount the lion for educational purposes. 

He also said they’ve received reports of another mountain lion in the state recently, south of Macomb. Jacques said that the animal came from Nebraska and has a tracker around its neck. That helps officials learn more about his movement patterns. 

He said they let the animals move through the state naturally and only remove them if there is a public safety concern or threat. 

If you see one, contact the IDNR or report the sighting online.