Pre-Halloween stories about mountain lions have some people running scared. D-N-R biologist Ron Andrews says rumors and stories of mountain lion or cougar sightings have spread across the state recently faster than the politicians. He says they’re getting a lot of verbal reports. He says those reports seem to spur other reports, and he says in most cases they’re not mountain lions. Andrews says the stories are being fueled by a couple of pictures on the internet supposedly giving visual proof to the lion sightings. But he says people are lying about the lion pictures. He says the pictures claim mountain lions are in nearly every county of the state. He says one picture shows a man holding up a mountain lion, but he says it’s an old picture taken in Washington State. He says the other has a picture of a lion stalking a deer that was supposedly taken in southern Iowa. Andrews says that picture shows a mule deer, and there are no mule deer in the state. He says it also shows a fairly dense conifer stand, which is not typically found in Iowa. He says there are mountain lions in Iowa, but their presence is being exaggerated. Andrews says three mountain lions have been killed in the state in the last three years — one was road-killed in the late summer of 2001 near Harlan, one shot near Ireton in northwest Iowa in November 2003, and one shot near Chariton in south central Iowa in early 2004. He says there are maybe five in the state, but they aren’t in every county. So why would people make such claims? He says that’s a good question. He says the Internet is a wonderful tool, but he says it can also be used to feed gossip. Another rumor says the D-N-R released mountain lions in the state to help control the deer population. Andrews says that rumor is as fake as the others.
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