A state conservation officer and a hunter shot and killed a large male mountain lion late Friday afternoon in northwest Iowa.
The hunter first spotted the animal Thursday evening in a wooded area, about four miles south of Rock Valley, near the Rock River. Kevin Baskins, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the hunter was in the area, checking a trail camera, when he saw the mountain lion and became concerned because it did not run away.
“This was a mountain lion that had just made a fresh kill — it had killed a buck deer — and it was probably reluctant to want to leave this kill,” Baskins says. “It was cold outside and I’m sure it really didn’t want to walk away from a food source that it had obtained.”
The hunter and a neighbor checked the area again and when the lion didn’t flee, they called a state conservation officer. On Friday the officer checked photos from the trail camera and found paw prints in the area, then when one of the men nearly stepped on the mountain lion as it hid in the woods, they opened fire and killed it. The lion weighed about 130 pounds and Baskins says that makes it one of the largest mountain lions killed in the state.
“The ones that we’ve been seeing up ’til now were about from 100 to 110 pounds,” Baskins says.
The mountain lion was within a couple of hundred yards of a house where small children lived. The kids often play in the area where the mountain lion was seen. Baskins says mountain lions generally flee when they see humans.
“Most of them try and avoid human contact, trying to stay in those more remote areas,” Baskins says. “But on the other hand, you know, they need to eat, too, and they’re going to move where those food sources are.”
State officials plan to analyze the DNA of the mountain lion to try to determine where it came from, as Baskins says most mountain lions that have been seen in Iowa have been driven out of states to our west by more dominant mountain lions.