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Iowa Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources will seek "furbearer" status for mountain lions, in the wake of recent appearances of the big cat in Iowa over the last few years.

The state's Natural Resources Commission has instructed staff of the DNR to pursue approval in the Iowa Legislature for the classification; which would allow the agency to establish regulations such as a season and limits on killing mountain lions. The same status will be sought for black bears.

Three of the big cats have been killed in the last three years in Iowa. Several others have been confirmed by tracks. Another was photographed by a motion-sensitive trail camera. A variety of unconfirmed sightings have been fielded by DNR officials as well. The re-emergence of the mountain lion, or cougar, prompted a petition to place the animal on the state's endangered species list. At the NRC's June meeting in Storm Lake, the petition was reviewed, but commissioners were told that there was little public support for "endangered list" status. "We must look at what realistically might happen, to get some protection for mountain lions A more positive approach is to get them back on the 'furbearer' list", emphasized DNR wildlife research supervisor Terry Little.

DNR wildlife staff will work with conservation and agriculture advocates in the coming months to come up with acceptable wording. A key area will be to eliminate indiscriminate killing of the wild cats, yet allowing landowners to protect themselves, their family, property, pets and livestock if threatened.
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