The second confirmed cougar has been witnessed in more than a century in Illinois, and it came within five years of the first. Hunting deer near the Mississippi River in the last season, Kenny Tharp spotted something curled beneath a pine tree. And he just couldn’t believe it. It was the body of a 98-pound cougar. The mountain lions are reported to have increased in the Midwest in recent years. A nationwide effort is scratching for evidence of more in Middle America, where the big cats thrived generations ago. The network is trying to measure the number of cougars east of the Rocky Mountains, using the discovery of carcasses, verifiable photos, and cougar DNA from scat and hair samples.