Iowa deer hunters found a dead mountain lion with a broken snare around its neck Tuesday in Poweshiek County, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Since mountain lions have no legal wildlife status in Iowa, the hunters could have kept the carcass, according to DNR officials, but they voluntarily turned over the 119-pound male cat.
“It is not required that (mountain) lions be reported to the Iowa DNR, however we really appreciate it when they are,” said Vince Evelsizer, a wildlife biologist with the DNR. “It helps us all in monitoring their whereabouts and learning more about them.”
Evelsizer said the DNR will do testing to potentially determine the mountain lion’s background, age and overall health.
Mountain lions are the largest of three wildcat species historically documented in Iowa, with lynx and bobcat being the other two.
This year, there were no confirmed reports of mountain lions in Iowa until October. Evelsizer said it’s possible that four separate mountain lions have now been spotted, or that one or two mountain lions moved around the state and were reported multiple times. The state had six confirmed reports of mountain lions in 2019, but none in 2020.
Since 2000, the DNR has received more than 1,500 reports of mountain lions in Iowa, but most have been unsubstantiated. Yellow lab or shepherd dogs, bobcats, feral cats and deer are often mistaken for mountain lions.
There is no evidence that Iowa has a “self-sustaining breeding population of mountain lions, according to the DNR’s Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest report for 2020-21, which also says the department “has not ‘stocked’ or introduced mountain lions into the state, nor is there any consideration of doing so,” despite rumors saying otherwise.
In the past 150 years, 19 people in the U.S. have died from mountain lion attacks, according to the DNR. None of the fatalities occurred in Iowa.