ROCK VALLEY, Iowa -- A large male mountain lion was shot and killed in Sioux County on Friday in a wooded area near Rock Valley, Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The mountain lion was first spotted by a hunter checking his trail camera Thursday evening. When the cat, sitting about 40 yards away, did not move, the man slowly backed away and called a neighbor. Returning to the spot, the men found the mountain lion was still in the same place but walked away from a buck it had recently killed. The men then called Conservation Officer John Sells.
Sells checked the area on Friday afternoon and was able to verify the lion from paw prints and photos on the trail camera. The cat was hidden in the area and did not move until one of the men nearly stepped on it.
Both Sells and another man then shot and killed the mountain lion.
“This was definitely something I did not want to do," Sells said in a press release, "but this cat was within just a couple of hundred yards of a house with small children who often play in the woods exactly where the lion was."
Sells said the decision to shoot the lion was based on its proximity to houses -- eight within a mile -- and the fact that the cat was not exhibiting normal behavior of trying to avoid humans.
Within a minute of having shot the lion, Sells said, a school bus come down the gravel road and dropped off kids at the nearby house. The children all began sledding in an open area right next to the kill site and would have been playing less than 200 yards from where lion had been.
The mountain lion was a larger animal than other cats that have been killed or spotted in Iowa, weighing an estimated 160 to 180 pounds. The cat did not have any tattoos or any other signs of having been raised in captivity. Most mountain lions that have been spotted in Iowa are believed to have been males driven from their territories in western states.