Two men report that they shot and killed a mountain lion Friday after encountering the beast in northwest Iowa.
According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, a hunter first spotted the cat while checking his trail camera Thursday evening about four miles south of Rock Valley. The mountain lion was sitting about 40 yards away and did not move.
The man slowly backed away and called a neighbor. When they returned, the cat was still there but had walked away from a buck which it had recently killed. The men then called Conservation Officer John Sells.
Sells checked the area Friday afternoon and verified that it was a mountain lion based on paw prints and video from the camera. While investigating the situation, Sells and the hunter did not realize the cat was hiding. That is until the hunter nearly stepped on it.
At that point, both men opened fire killing the cat. Sells said they were within a few hundred yards of a house with small children who often play in the woods similar to where the lion was. He says the decision to shot the lion was based on the proximity to several houses and the fact that the cat was not exhibiting normal behavior of trying to avoid humans.
In fact, with a minute of the lion being shot, a school bus arrived down the road and dropped off children at a nearby house. “It is unfortunate that the lion had to be killed, but given the obvious public safety concern there was really no alternative. Our primary concern is the protection of human life in this case,” said Sells in a DNR news release.
The mountain lion was weighed 160-180 pounds. It did not have any signs of being raised in captivity. Tissue samples were taken to have DNA analysis done to determine where it came from. Most mountain lions that have been spotted in Iowa are believed to have been males driven from their territories in western states.