Outdoors Column: We Have Mountain Lions?

Rumors have been abounding since a mountain lion was recently spotted near where I reside. I have heard everything from the drought in the west is driving them east to the state department of natural resources is importing them to control the deer population. It is my opinion, none of the many rumors are true and an occasional mountain lion will wander off and get lost. There are people with no sense of directions, why cannot the same be true of animals.

A few years ago a moose, probably from Minnesota, traveled across Iowa. The last I heard, he was somewhere in southern Missouri. He may have crossed Arkansas and Texas and spent the winter in balmy Mexico. I do not think global warming or a government conspiracy is necessary to explain the errant travels of a few misguided animals. Animals will wander, some with direction in mind and some just aimlessly.

Over 150 years ago, Iowa had a resident population of mountain lions, also called pumas. With more concern for their children and livestock than the balance of nature, our forefathers quickly eradicated the pests. It seems mountain lions, being carnivores and rather indiscriminate, will eat anything that moves slower than they do. When people move into an area with their livestock, a smorgasbord has arrived for the big cats. They like to eat deer, but baby calves and sheep move slower than deer. Small people move slower still. It is not hard to see why our ancestors got rid of mountain lions in our area. It meant economic and physical survival. In places such as Colorado, tens of thousands of acres are devoted to wilderness. There is room for lions to hunt deer, elk, raccoons, and many other furry forest creatures, before they choose domesticated livestock or people. They can live in harmony with nature there. The landscape of Iowa is much different. Here, a large patch of timber is a hundred acres. We use our land for livestock, and do not particularly care to share. I would personally be offended if a mountain lion took up residence on my property and chose to live by eating my dog or the cattle that also reside on my land.

I enjoy watching nature and all its creatures as much or more than the next person. I think allowing mountain lions to make a foothold in the state would be a disaster. It is nice to watch wildlife until it affects my livelihood or the safety of my friends and family. Just because something is part of nature does not necessarily make it good or beneficial. Mosquitoes, roaches, and rats are also part of nature. Most people have no qualms about doing their best to dispatch them. We may or may not have resident mountain lions, but I am sure we can live without them.