The re-emergence of mountain lions and bears in Iowa has raised concerns and prompted discussion about how humans and the animals can safely live together. The Natural Resources Commission discussed putting the animals on the endangered species list — but now is looking at another option. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife research supervisor Terry Little says they’ll seek what’s called “furbearer” status for the two animals. He says putting them on the list would protect them from indiscriminate killing unless the natural resources commission created a season for hunting them. Little says the furbearer status at the same time keeps options open for dealing with the animals. He says other parts of the code of Iowa give citizens the right to protect themselves and their property from furbearers if they’re being threatened. He says this would prevent the indiscriminate killing of the animals, while still giving people the option to protect themselves and their property. Little says two of the three mountain lions killed recently in Iowa were shot for no particular reason. He says they really weren’t threatening anyone. “They weren’t causing any problems at the time or there was no history of problems, the individuals just felt they wanted to shoot them, and they did,” he says. He says it was perfectly legal to shoot them. Little says black bears are included too as they face the same situation as mountain lions. He says there is a black bear roaming around northeast Iowa and the populations have increase in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He says more bears could move into Iowa the D-N-R believes the bears should be protected unless they’re actually threatening or doing harm. Little says one of the key things they need to do is lay out a definition to determine when the animals are a threat. He says, “Other words, is just having one on your property a threat? If they’re around your buildings or animals are they a threat? If they actually kill livestock.” He says they’ll sit down and talk with environmental and agricultural groups and try to define what a threat is. Little says they need to have that definition clearly spelled out before asking the Legislature to put the animals on the furbearer list.
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