Mountain lion photo/Wiki

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that hunters shot and killed a mountain lion that had been in Eastern Iowa since last spring, but was never considered a safety issue.

Mountain lions are not currently protected in Iowa, said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer and wetland biologist for the DNR, so the shooting was considered legal.

Evelsizer noted that the licensed hunters were out at night calling for coyotes the weekend of Jan. 28-29, west of Swisher, a town of about 900 people between Cedar Rapids and North Liberty in Eastern Iowa.

The mountain lion was an adult female, weighing 116 pounds, he said.

“We were aware of this cat being in that area prior to her being shot,” Evelsizer wrote in an email. “During that time, she was seldom if ever seen by humans and didn’t ever cause safety or livestock problems. Trail camera photos submitted to us from kind residents and hunters in the area helped us know of this cat’s whereabouts occasionally since last spring.”

According to the DNR, mountain lions and black bears are not listed in the Iowa Code as designated wildlife species, because they were eliminated in the state by settlers before fish and game legislation became prominent.

For mountain lions to have protected status in Iowa, it would need to happen at the grassroots level by citizens via the legislative process, Evelsizer noted. “Similar to the current black bear bill, the simplest thing for citizens to do is ask their Representative to draft a bill that simply adds the mountain lion to the list of species of wildlife for the state to manage,” he wrote.

Other mountain lions have been spotted in Iowa in recent years.

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