The U.S. Department of the Interior is proposing to take Gray wolves off the list of endangered and threatened species. Currently they’re protected in Iowa, as well as several surrounding states, but Ron Andrews, a furbearing wildlife specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, says you’re not likely to run across a wolf.
He says he’s never seen one, outside of some in captivity that may be part wolf and part dog, but Andrews says wolves are getting closer all the time to Iowa’s northern borders, coming down from Minnesota. He says there aren’t many predators to hold down the soaring numbers of deer in Iowa. He says fallen deer can be preyed upon by coyotes, dogs, a rare bobcat…and he gets cougar reports, but thinks most of them are “phantom.”
Confirmed sightings of cougars are very rare in Iowa. Andrews says he’s never seen a cougar in Iowa either, except in captivity. The DNR specialist doesn’t think Iowa’s going to be overrun by big carnivores any time soon. He says Iowa’s included on the list because wolves tend to roam a long distance and there’s always a chance one may roam into this state.
Even if they show up, he says you’re in no danger. Andrews says you’re more at risk from a mosquito giving you West Nile Virus, “or of getting conked in the head by a golf ball.” He says there’s no danger from wolves, which are few and far between and afraid of humans. He says they’d sense your presence and sneak away before you even know they’re out there.
The Interior Department may be close to removing gray wolves from the endangered list in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.