A Cedar Rapids man hunting deer Monday in Iowa County shot and killed what is believed to be the first wild female mountain lion found in Iowa in the modern era.
Monday’s kill of a presumed wild female in Iowa, coupled with earlier documentation of wild males, suggests a theoretical possibility that the cats could naturally reproduce here, said Department of Natural Resources furbearer specialist Ron Andrews.
“Their scarcity and people’s intolerance of them make that a long shot,” Andrews said.
Raymond Goebel Jr., 47, said he spotted the 125-pound cat reclining on a horizontal tree branch about 15 yards off the ground while hunting in a party of eight about four miles south of Marengo.
Goebel said he had trouble believing his eyes until he put his shotgun scope on the animal.
Goebel said the cat remained in the tree for about 40 minutes while he confirmed that shooting it would be legal — it is, mountain lions have no legal protection in Iowa — and that the landowner did not object.
Goebel, who intends to memorialize the cat in a full-body mount, said he killed the cat from a distance of about 50 yards with a single 12-gauge slug placed behind the cat’s front shoulder.
DNR Conservation Officer Brad Baker confirmed that the cat is a female and that it is likely a wild one (as opposed to one that had escaped or been released from captivity), based on the length and sharpness of its teeth and claws and the absence of any identifying ear tags.
If so, that would make it the first wild female mountain lion documented in Iowa in the modern era, according to Andrews.
It is the fourth mountain lion killed in Iowa in the past nine years, following a 2001 roadkill in Shelby County and hunter kills in Sioux County in 2003 and Wayne County in 2004.
Biologists believe that wild mountain lions in Iowa have dispersed from native populations in the Black Hills of South Dakota, western Rocky Mountain states or southwest Texas.
The three previous cougar kills in Iowa involved males, which would be more likely than females to travel great distances in efforts to establish personal territories.
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