Monday, February 18, 2008

Dilemma of the Feline Kind

There has been a flashback of sorts from last last November over at Alpha Trilogy. When Darrell found an unidentified feline on one of his trips to the timber for a hunt. Now comes another case - this time in December, three friends in the Northwest Iowa town of Newell, came upon an atypical animal for the area. Terry and Dale Pedersen, cousins, had been working at a farm 2 miles South of Newell, near the Raccoon River; when friend Mike Heinrich came to pick them up . They all proceeded to a field where Heinrich had seen a big animal. At first the animal was laying low in the field 300 yards away when the trio arrived...Terry's impression was that it was a coyote. After it stood and turned sideways they were sure Mike's sighting was that of a Mountain Lion. The length, height of the body, and size of the tail made it easier to put a name to the creature. Terry proceeded to take pictures which he turned into the Iowa DNR in an effort to report and get verification for what they had witnessed. The Iowa DNR is telling the guys that it was a housecat that they saw crossing the field. Ron Andrews,a DNR wildlife specialist, sought out experts in the field at the Eastern Cougar Network, after initially believing it was a big cat, himself. It is Ron Andrew's job to debunk rumors of Mountain Lion habitation in the state. There have been a return of sightings reported since 1995. Terry Pedersen and Newell residents couldn't believe the eventual deciphering of the picture. The friends have since done some optical tests themselves to determine how a housecat would be photographed at the same distance and zoom settings on the camera used to catch the larger feline a couple months ago. John Carlson a Des Moines Register reporter had this to say about the sighting a few months ago and the current opinion given by the DNR. The picture John took can also be seen here. The IowaDNR will be implementing a method used by the MissouriDNR of using cardboard cutouts in the actual size of mature cougars to either prove or disprove the Newell Mountain Lion. In their eyes anyway.
Confirmed Mountain Lion Reports in Iowa 1995-2004
Numerous additional sightings have been reported, but are not mapped because of less than credible information. 1. Lyon County, December 1995: Cougar tracks confirmed by Iowa Department of Natural Resources personnel. 2. Webster County, April 2001: Cougar tracks confirmed by the IDNR personnel. 3. Jasper County, April 2001: A mountain lion was killed by a car, however this was not reported until later. When this animal was exhumed, it was found to have been declawed indicating an animal that was captive at one time. 4. Shely County, August 2001: A 130 lb. male cougar was killed by a car near the town of Harlan. Physical evidence indicated wild origin. 5. Allamakee County, September 2001: Cougar tracks confirmed by IDNR personnel. 6. Cherokee County, October 2001: Cougar tracks confirmed by IDNR personnel. 7. Carroll County, December 2001: Carroll County Conservation personnel visually sighted a mountain lion. 8. Ringgold County, December 2001: IDNR personnel confirmed a mountain lion sighting. Mountain lion tracks and scat were found at the site. 9. Fremont County, January 2001: Confirmed mountain lion sighting. 10. Monona County, April 2002: Confirmed mountain lion sighting. 11. Sioux County, October 2003: Farmers shot and killed a 113 lb. male cougar near Ireton. Analysis of the carcass and stomach contents indicates probably wild origin. 12. Wayne County, January 2004: A hunter killed a male mountain lion near Chariton. It was estimated to be between 1 1/2 and 2 years old (an age when mountain lions are trying to establish a home range). 13. Lucas County, February 2004: IDNR personnel confirmed a mountain lion track south of the town of Lucas. Source: Ron Andrews, Iowa Department of Natural Resources furbearer biologist, August 2004. 1-641-357-3517. Eastern Cougar Net August 2004. October 2004 - confirmed photo from Marshall County. The latter , Marshall County sighting, was on a trail camera within a 25 minute drive from my place, and 3 1/2 years ago. Although time has passed, everytime I am in the timber I look for any unusual activities, footprints, or sounds... Be Alert!