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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

'Mountain Lion Mania' to ease 'puma paranoia'

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ron Andrews, former resource specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, hopes "Mountain Lion Mania" will help ease the minds of Iowa citizens. Contrary to popular belief, mountain lions are not a serious threat to the area.
If, when going about your daily business, you happen to come into contact with a mountain lion, do not run away.

Instead, stand your ground. Ron Andrews, retired resource specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, refers to the "Incredible Hulk," when describing the stance.

However, as Andrews presented in "Mountain Lion Mania," at the fair, the chances of a resident in Iowa actually coming into contact with a mountain lion are rare.

"95 percent of the calls we get in are cases of mistaken identity," Andrews said.

Recently, talk of mountain lions returning to the area is increasing, and Andrews hopes that his presentation will help to dispel some of the unnecessary fright surrounding these rumors. He refers to the anxiety as "mountain lion mania," "cougar corniness," or "puma paranoia."

"We have 12 confirmed sightings since 2000," Andrews said. "But we've had hundreds, if not a thousand, unconfirmed sightings."

Andrews said reports have come from every county in Iowa. He noted that more reports come in the summertime, when there's more tree cover, than in deer season.

Before the paranoia returned, the last sighting of a mountain lion was in 1867, near Cincinnati, Iowa.

Mountain lions are not protected in Iowa, and never were. They are considered a wilderness animal, but because they have no legal wildlife status, they can be taken by anyone at anytime as long as the methods for taking the animal were legal.

When they receive a call, they first ask for evidence: a carcass or series of tracks is best.

"All cats have retractable claws," Andrews said. "They're not usually out while walking."

Many of the calls they receive are actually sightings of dogs, or even domestic house cats.

"Someone sees a domesticated cat in the weeds, and they remember hearing about someone who claimed to see a mountain lion. They assume that they're seeing one, too," Andrews said.

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