The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is reporting today that a large male mountain lion was shot and killed in western Iowa.
Mountain lions have no legal wildlife protection in Iowa; the same as black bears.
DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins said the DNR has not had any opportunity to tranquilize an animal for relocation purposes.
“Tranquilizing can be an inexact science with the risk of putting the animal and/or humans in danger,” he said. “The other problem is once the animal is tranquilized, where do you go with it?”
The DNR report is below, along with information about the status of mountain lions in Iowa:
Dec. 7, 2013: A large male mountain lion was shot and killed late Friday afternoon in a wooded area near the Rock River approximately four miles south of Rock Valley in Sioux County.
The mountain lion was first spotted by a hunter checking his trail camera Thursday evening. When the cat, sitting about 40 yards away did not move, the man slowly backed away and called a neighbor. Returning to the spot, the mountain lion was still in the same place, but walked away from a buck it had recently killed. The men then called Conservation Officer John Sells.
Sells checked the area on Friday afternoon and was able to verify the lion from paw prints and photos on the trail camera. The cat was hidden in the area and did not move until the other man nearly stepped on it.
Both Sells and the other man then shot and killed the mountain lion.
“This was definitely something I did not want to do, but this cat was within just a couple of hundred yards of a house with small children who often play in the woods exactly where the lion was,” said Sells.
Sells said the decision to shoot the lion was based on its proximity to houses, approximately eight within a mile, and the fact that the cat was not exhibiting normal behavior of trying to avoid humans.
Within a minute of having shot the lion, Sells said a school bus come down the gravel road and dropped off kids at the nearby house. The children all began sledding in an open area right next to the kill site and would have been playing less than 200 yards from where lion had been.
“It is unfortunate that the lion had to be killed, but given the obvious public safety concern there was really no alternative. Our primary concern is the protection of human life in this case,” said Sells.
The mountain lion was a larger animal than other cats that have been killed or spotted in Iowa, weighing an estimated 160 to 180 pounds. The cat did not have any tattoos or any other signs of having been raised in captivity. Tissue samples were taken to have DNA analysis done to try and determine where the mountain lion originated. Most mountain lions that have been spotted in Iowa are believed to have been males driven from their territories in western states.
Read more from the DNR regarding the status of mountain lions in Iowa (which are also known as cougars, pumas and other names) with an excerpt here:
Mountain lions have no legal wildlife status in Iowa. That means that they can be taken and possessed by anyone at anytime as long as legal methods and means are used to take the animal. Mountain lions and black bears are not listed in the Iowa Code as designated wildlife species, because they were extirpated before fish and game legislation became prominent. The pioneers did not see their presence of any value to their own way of life, so basically persecution by humans brought their demise. In the late 1990’s, the DNR began to receive several reports of mountain lions in the state. In midsummer 2001, we received enough reports that we felt it appropriate to make a news release stating the possibility of the presence of a few free ranging mountain lions in Iowa. Two weeks after we made the first announcement that there may be a few free ranging mountain lions in the state a road kill occurred near Harlan in late August, 2001.
Since that time, 2 more mountain lions have been shot and one actual photo taken by a trail master motion sensitive camera. The DNA results of the 3 dead mountain lions, as well as the lack of worn claws or broken teeth, indicates that all 3 dead animals in Iowa are of wild western origin. Numerous other fake photos of so called Iowa mountain lions are circulating the Internet.