The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has dedicated a special section on its website to provide more information on some large animals that have turned up in the state in recent years.
DNR biologist, Vince Evelsizer, often fields calls about the animals. “In the education tab, I think it is on the Iowa DNR’s website, if you do a search for large mammals you’ll come up with some information on there for black bears, gray wolf, mountain lion and a little bit on there for moose as well. Where it explains a little bit more than what was on there is the past about their basic biology, why we seem them occasionally in Iowa. Just a lot more information about them that a lot of folks will probably find pretty helpful,” Evelsizer says.
Evelsizer says the attention on the big animals has increased in part because of technology that allows people to take pictures and videos when the animals roam into Iowa. And he says their visits have also increased in recent years. “I think it’s fairly safe to see that we’ve seen a little bit of a spike in black bears and then to a couple of gray wolves too,” Evelsizer says. “Mountain lions sort of remain the same here where we get one every now and then, it seems like there’s spurts, it will be quiet for awhile and then we may get a few.”
The animals many years ago had been regular residents of the state, but they are now just tourists dropping in for a visit. “To our knowledge right now we don’t have a breeding population of any one of those three, the bear, the wolf and the mountain lion. Time will tell if we ever have that occur, and then we will work with the people of Iowa to deal with that,” he says.
The internet has spawned various conspiracy theories about the DNR bringing the animals into the state. The one that’s been around for awhile is that the mountain lions were introduced to help deal with an overabundant deer herd. Evelsizer says that’s as untrue as many of the other internet rumors.
“It’s not a good move on our part to do that if people fear those animals and feel like they would be a threat to them, why would be bring them in,” Evelsizer asks “The second more important part is though, we like to rely on our deer hunters to help control the deer population, and that’s gone pretty darn well. It’s expensive and time-consuming to bring in something like a mountain lion.”