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December 17, 2009
Mountain Lion Alert! - 21

When Raymond Goebel, Jr. spotted a tan-colored animal slinking through the eastern Iowa woods, he naturally thought it was a deer.

Goebel was deer hunting, after all, and the woods around Marengo, southwest of Cedar Rapids, are full of whitetails. But when he pulled up his rifle and looked through his scope, he spied an animal that is making a slow but sure comeback from the Great Lakes to the Great Plains. It was a mountain lion.

After verifying the identity of the lion with a hunting buddy, Goebel reportedly contacted the landowner and secured permission to kill the cat, according to an account in the Omaha World Herald (www.omaha.com/article/20091216/SPORTS07/712169884).

According to officials with Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources, Goebel’s cat was only the fourth killed in the state in the last decade. Because they were considered extinct when Iowa’s game laws were ratified, mountain lions have no legal protection in the state, so Goebel didn’t require any special license to kill or possess the cat.

Goebel’s experience may be rare, but it’s becoming more common as mountain lions move into parts of the country where they haven’t been seen since the Civil War.

Just last month in Michigan, officials with Department of Natural Resources confirmed that the image captured in October by a trail camera in the eastern Upper Peninsula was that of a mountain lion (www.miningjournal.net/page/content.detail/id/535795.html?nav=5006).

That is big news, as state officials have for years rejected the existence of mountain lions in the Wolverine State. But biologists who returned to the site where the remote camera was located confirmed cougar tracks, and two additional sets of lion tracks were verified elsewhere in the U.P. in early November.

Goebel’s lion was a male, and it may be that the Michigan cougars are also males traveling widely to find a mate. Without females in the nascent population, cougars can’t be considered established.

Still, the landscape is ripe for the return of mountain lions. White-tailed deer populations are large and growing across much of the Midwest, large swaths of farmland are depopulating as production agriculture requires fewer farmers, and habitat programs such as CRP and Wetlands Reserve Program have created secure cover for predators and prey alike.

That lion-friendly mix of conditions has brought the big predators back in the last year to sections of Kansas, eastern Nebraska and northern Missouri. Where the next lion sighting will occur is anybody’s guess, but my bet is that we aren’t far away from seeing females and litters of young cougar kittens in previously unthinkable places.

 

Comments (21)

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from Sue Roskos wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

"The Country Today" Newspaper just featured a story about a cougar that's being tracked through western WI. Photo of cougar was taken with a webcam on a Dunn Co. farm. They're collecting fur samples to see if it's same one that the DNR was tracking near Stillwater, MN.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I would rather not have to worry about my children lagging behind me or my pets running off ahead. I think I would vote to keep them out of MN. But that could change with a better understanding of the animal I suppose.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from James Mahaffy wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Someone said "The game and parks in Nebraska has denied it for years" While individual warden may deny them, Nebraska is one of the best states for reporting what they kinow about mountain lions to the public. See:
http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/mountainlion.asp
and their map on
http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/images/mtlion.jpg
As someone who keep track of signs in NW Iowa rememer that most prints are really dog and half the sightings by outdoors folks are something else.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

oh yeah there was a post from OL that showed a dead cat in Idaho I believe with its guts layed out they said it was from a local pack of wolves on a joykill spree in the area.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

DJH, Wolves attack cougars? Did not know that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jlduis wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

it is illegal to hunt deer with a rifle in northern iowa however in the two southern tiers of counties it is legal. two years ago my step mom and i spotted a mountain lion run into some woods in NW iowa. at first it looked like a deer but then i saw the long tail and it was running was too fast.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

opps seeley not seely

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I was told the mountain lion is my protector by my elders. So my fear of them is not very high. It dont bother me seeing them hunted like Andrew pointed out they are very shy & there first thought is too flee undetected but with that said there are probly some mountain lions out there what dont feel fear of humans. So yes watch your kids watch your pets & if you come across something half coverd in dirt dont panic its just your local cougar storing his meal for a little bit. Crazy story about seely lake Andrew my dad has the same storie & we are just over the range from seely . I never had one stock me but I do know where to bump into one in shed hunting months his tracks are as big as the inside of a medium size paper plate I will get photos of his tracks this year if the wolves didnt get him. I never saw him just found his tracks all over my most visited shed hunting spot. man i hope he made it another year!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

if we shoot every cat we see, there will not be enough for a regular hunting season. let the grow the population. JMO

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Casey Walker wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

One more thing I would rather have the cats then the wolves. Cats by their very nature of having large territories for a single animal would be less destructive and more productive for deer and elk herds. They would still take care of the sick and weak animals but not run the entire herd ragged getting to them. We have more cats in Western Nebraska and South Western South Dakota then I think anybody truly realizes but their impact on livestock and deer and elk populations have not been that negative. Just my two cents worth.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Casey Walker wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

The game and parks in Nebraska has denied it for years too but they can't any longer with all the trail camera pics and the fact that out here in Western Nebraska there have been several shot in the last few years either in self defense by hunters or by ranchers defending livestock. Lets hope they do a better job with the mountain lion situation in our state and surrounding states then they did with the wolf situation in Wyoming, Montana and those states.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HuntingEditor wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Hi All - a clarification and a perspective. First, the suggestion that Goebel hunted with a rifle is mine alone. I gleaned the account from news reports, which indicated that he positively identified the cougar after looking through his gun's scope. Probably was a shotgun.

Second, MWK_MN asks a great question: Should you be concerned for your own safety if you hunt in lion country? As someone who has hunted all over mountains and canyons occupied by mountain lions, I don't worry at all about a lion attacking. They are intensely shy animals, and even in their core habitat their numbers are very, very low. I once was tracking whitetails in the Seeley Lake area of western Montana and circled back on my own tracks, which were covered by a lion. Obviously the lion was stalking me, but unless it's an old or injured cougar, the chances of it attacking a grown human are pretty slim. I worry more about taking my kids hiking in lion country, because cougars are ambush predators and might try to take a human child lagging behind the rest of the group.

Personally, I don't mind cougars reoccupying their historic range in the Midwest, as long as they can be legally hunted. To me, they belong on the landscape as much as squirrels or deer do. But what do you guys think? Is it worth the cost in deer predation and the slim risk to human safety to have them back?

Andrew McKean
Hunting Editor

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BeardogRed wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I'm thinkin it would be good to allow the cat population to flourish in IA & IL. There are plenty of deer. The deer population is healthy enough to allow a natural selection to take place. In a few years we would have another hunting season for hunters! The cougar is a beautiful animal!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunter6 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Being a local from this area i was watching the new's the night they interviewed ray. and according to the interview the cat was laying on a big branch when he spotted it. They never did say that it was shot with a rifle. They also talked to dean the land owner , who had said he has seen sign's of a big cat on his land in the past. And as far as contacting the land owner before he shot it , most of us either carry cell phone's or hand held radio's. so that part doesn't seem to far fetched to me.Thank's from iowa

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I've heard of two sightings in SE PA in the last couple of years. Two weeks ago a couple of the guys from my wife works both said they saw a dead cougar on the side of 73 near 29 on their way to work in the morning. One of them grew up hunting and the other was originally from Montana, I give them the benefit of the doubt. A friend of mine called me two years ago the morning after the deer opener to tell me that he was coming down 476 S of the Lehigh Tunnel early in the morning returning from camp in the Poconos to grab a shower before work. He saw a pick-up on the shoulder with its flashers on and pulled over to see if the guy needed any help. When he pulled up even with the truck the driver was staring ahead of him. He looked ahead of the pick-up and there was a mountain lion walking along the shoulder which he said was much taller than the guide rail. They're around.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I've often wondered what I would do if I saw one while hunting here in MN, which I know would be extremely rare. Anyone know if it's legal to shoot one in MN? I just see no need to have them in this area. Not only would they take a lot of game animals but the thought of one jumping on me and chomping down on my neck kinda scares the sh*% out of me. Is this an unnecessary fear? Do you guys/gals out in their established areas fear this?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from patrick88 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

that cat is bigger than the deer behind it looks like he will be eating cat for awhile.cat chops anyone!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tractorjet wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

How did he secure permission so quickly?
It is called a cell phone.........

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Browning250 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I thought it was illegal to hunt deer with a rifle in IOWA??

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike73 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Story seems fishy. Dogs chase those cats for hours. How does he verify, go get permission, sneak back in, and kill this cat, undetected.
I think the killing part came first.
Mike73

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

well you saved a big number of wildlife by taking the cat out. Where theres 1 there is always more so cat hunting in that area should pick up until they outlaw anyway.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from Casey Walker wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

One more thing I would rather have the cats then the wolves. Cats by their very nature of having large territories for a single animal would be less destructive and more productive for deer and elk herds. They would still take care of the sick and weak animals but not run the entire herd ragged getting to them. We have more cats in Western Nebraska and South Western South Dakota then I think anybody truly realizes but their impact on livestock and deer and elk populations have not been that negative. Just my two cents worth.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Casey Walker wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

The game and parks in Nebraska has denied it for years too but they can't any longer with all the trail camera pics and the fact that out here in Western Nebraska there have been several shot in the last few years either in self defense by hunters or by ranchers defending livestock. Lets hope they do a better job with the mountain lion situation in our state and surrounding states then they did with the wolf situation in Wyoming, Montana and those states.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HuntingEditor wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Hi All - a clarification and a perspective. First, the suggestion that Goebel hunted with a rifle is mine alone. I gleaned the account from news reports, which indicated that he positively identified the cougar after looking through his gun's scope. Probably was a shotgun.

Second, MWK_MN asks a great question: Should you be concerned for your own safety if you hunt in lion country? As someone who has hunted all over mountains and canyons occupied by mountain lions, I don't worry at all about a lion attacking. They are intensely shy animals, and even in their core habitat their numbers are very, very low. I once was tracking whitetails in the Seeley Lake area of western Montana and circled back on my own tracks, which were covered by a lion. Obviously the lion was stalking me, but unless it's an old or injured cougar, the chances of it attacking a grown human are pretty slim. I worry more about taking my kids hiking in lion country, because cougars are ambush predators and might try to take a human child lagging behind the rest of the group.

Personally, I don't mind cougars reoccupying their historic range in the Midwest, as long as they can be legally hunted. To me, they belong on the landscape as much as squirrels or deer do. But what do you guys think? Is it worth the cost in deer predation and the slim risk to human safety to have them back?

Andrew McKean
Hunting Editor

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunter6 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Being a local from this area i was watching the new's the night they interviewed ray. and according to the interview the cat was laying on a big branch when he spotted it. They never did say that it was shot with a rifle. They also talked to dean the land owner , who had said he has seen sign's of a big cat on his land in the past. And as far as contacting the land owner before he shot it , most of us either carry cell phone's or hand held radio's. so that part doesn't seem to far fetched to me.Thank's from iowa

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I've heard of two sightings in SE PA in the last couple of years. Two weeks ago a couple of the guys from my wife works both said they saw a dead cougar on the side of 73 near 29 on their way to work in the morning. One of them grew up hunting and the other was originally from Montana, I give them the benefit of the doubt. A friend of mine called me two years ago the morning after the deer opener to tell me that he was coming down 476 S of the Lehigh Tunnel early in the morning returning from camp in the Poconos to grab a shower before work. He saw a pick-up on the shoulder with its flashers on and pulled over to see if the guy needed any help. When he pulled up even with the truck the driver was staring ahead of him. He looked ahead of the pick-up and there was a mountain lion walking along the shoulder which he said was much taller than the guide rail. They're around.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

if we shoot every cat we see, there will not be enough for a regular hunting season. let the grow the population. JMO

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I've often wondered what I would do if I saw one while hunting here in MN, which I know would be extremely rare. Anyone know if it's legal to shoot one in MN? I just see no need to have them in this area. Not only would they take a lot of game animals but the thought of one jumping on me and chomping down on my neck kinda scares the sh*% out of me. Is this an unnecessary fear? Do you guys/gals out in their established areas fear this?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

DJH, Wolves attack cougars? Did not know that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I would rather not have to worry about my children lagging behind me or my pets running off ahead. I think I would vote to keep them out of MN. But that could change with a better understanding of the animal I suppose.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

well you saved a big number of wildlife by taking the cat out. Where theres 1 there is always more so cat hunting in that area should pick up until they outlaw anyway.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I was told the mountain lion is my protector by my elders. So my fear of them is not very high. It dont bother me seeing them hunted like Andrew pointed out they are very shy & there first thought is too flee undetected but with that said there are probly some mountain lions out there what dont feel fear of humans. So yes watch your kids watch your pets & if you come across something half coverd in dirt dont panic its just your local cougar storing his meal for a little bit. Crazy story about seely lake Andrew my dad has the same storie & we are just over the range from seely . I never had one stock me but I do know where to bump into one in shed hunting months his tracks are as big as the inside of a medium size paper plate I will get photos of his tracks this year if the wolves didnt get him. I never saw him just found his tracks all over my most visited shed hunting spot. man i hope he made it another year!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

oh yeah there was a post from OL that showed a dead cat in Idaho I believe with its guts layed out they said it was from a local pack of wolves on a joykill spree in the area.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Browning250 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I thought it was illegal to hunt deer with a rifle in IOWA??

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from patrick88 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

that cat is bigger than the deer behind it looks like he will be eating cat for awhile.cat chops anyone!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BeardogRed wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I'm thinkin it would be good to allow the cat population to flourish in IA & IL. There are plenty of deer. The deer population is healthy enough to allow a natural selection to take place. In a few years we would have another hunting season for hunters! The cougar is a beautiful animal!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tractorjet wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

How did he secure permission so quickly?
It is called a cell phone.........

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jlduis wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

it is illegal to hunt deer with a rifle in northern iowa however in the two southern tiers of counties it is legal. two years ago my step mom and i spotted a mountain lion run into some woods in NW iowa. at first it looked like a deer but then i saw the long tail and it was running was too fast.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

opps seeley not seely

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from James Mahaffy wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Someone said "The game and parks in Nebraska has denied it for years" While individual warden may deny them, Nebraska is one of the best states for reporting what they kinow about mountain lions to the public. See:
http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/mountainlion.asp
and their map on
http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/images/mtlion.jpg
As someone who keep track of signs in NW Iowa rememer that most prints are really dog and half the sightings by outdoors folks are something else.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sue Roskos wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

"The Country Today" Newspaper just featured a story about a cougar that's being tracked through western WI. Photo of cougar was taken with a webcam on a Dunn Co. farm. They're collecting fur samples to see if it's same one that the DNR was tracking near Stillwater, MN.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike73 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Story seems fishy. Dogs chase those cats for hours. How does he verify, go get permission, sneak back in, and kill this cat, undetected.
I think the killing part came first.
Mike73

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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