Mountain Lion Is Not Just a Rumor Anymore in Iowa


Mar 11, 2001
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Mountain Lion Is Not Just a Rumor Anymore in Iowa

August 28, 2001

Harlan, Iowa - A full-grown mountain lion was killed by a vehicle this past weekend in what looks like the first confirmed mountain lion killed since 1867.

Shelby County Conservation officials spent Monday looking over the male cat, which weighed about 130 pounds, had a six-foot-long torso, two-inch claws and paws as big as a man's hands.

"It's been taking care of itself," said Bryce Schaven, roadside manager for the conservation board. "It was a well-muscled animal."

The mountain lion was discovered Saturday night after Harlan police received a report that a woman driving on U.S. Highway 59 had hit an animal. The cat was killed about a block from Harlan Community High School. Harlan is about 40 miles northeast of Omaha.

According to a new book on Iowa hunting, the last confirmed mountain lion killed in Iowa was in 1867 in southeast Iowa. There had been confirmed sets of paw tracks found in the state in recent years but never an animal or carcass.

Ed Weiner, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said more people have reported seeing mountain lions in the past two to three years with sightings in several areas south of Sioux City. There have been recent sightings around Magnolia and Pisgah. Pottawattamie County officials also received several reports about a mountain lion last winter near Underwood.

"We've had stories for the past two or three years of people spotting them," Weiner said.

Weiner wanted to alleviate fears people might have that such cats would pose a serious danger to people. Weiner said that if the animal found in Harlan were wild, it had avoided contact with people and probably kept itself well-fed from area wildlife. He had not heard any reports of farmers losing livestock to the cat.

"That goes a long way to point out that children are not in any sort of peril," Weiner said.

Darby Sanders, director of the Shelby County Conservation Board, said a family had reported seeing a mountain lion northwest of Harlan over the past year. Sanders said there are two possibilities that brought the animal to Harlan: one, someone had raised the animal and dumped it; or two, the mountain lion is wild and roamed into the area.

"I have no doubt in my mind scenario two is what we are looking at because people have been seeing them all over," Sanders said.

There are no other marks or signs to suggest the animal was being kept by people. Conservation agents contacted two residents with licenses to keep such animals. Neither reported any animals missing, and most domesticated mountain lions have had their claws removed.

"This one has all of its claws," Schaven said. "That tends to make us think it's a wild one."

With no objections from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the cat likely will be stuffed and put on permanent display at the Nishna Bend Nature Center. Sanders said the local conservation office likely will need to solicit donations to mount and display the animal.


Harlan, Iowa, resident Monty Fansler and the mountain lion that was hit and killed by a vehicle  Saturday in Harlan.


That's pronounced I-Oh-Way for you non locals. :smilewink


Well-known member
Mar 11, 2001
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Sounds like the same stories and reports, without a confirmed kill as of yet, here in Pennsylvania. Starting to hear of more and more sightings but nothing confirmed. The die-hards say "no way" but I believe anything is possible. We have some very remote areas and I suspect these cats are very shy of humans.

(Edited by gizz at 8:48 am on Aug. 29, 2001)

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