A conservation officer shot a mountain lion near a school bus stop in Sioux County, Iowa.
The mountain lion was first reported Thursday, December 5, 2013 in a wooded area near the Rock River, about four miles south of Rock Valley, Iowa. A hunter saw it on his trail camera that evening. It was about 40 yards away from the hunter and the mountain lion reportedly did not move.
A conservation officer used paw prints and trail camera photos to confirm the mountain lion was in that area the next day. When they were checking for the paw prints, a civilian who was with the conservation officer nearly stepped on the mountain lion.
That’s when the man and the conservation officer shot and killed the mountain lion.
“This was definitely something I did not want to do, 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,” said Iowa Conservation Officer John Sells.
A statement from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said within a minute of the men shooting the mountain lion, a school bus dropped off kids at a nearby house. The children all began sledding in an open area next to the kill site. If the mountain lion had been alive, the kids would have been playing less than 200 yards from the animal.
“It is unfortunate that the lion had to be killed, but given the obvious public safety concern there was really no alternative. Our primary concern is the protection of human life in this case,” said Sells.
Sells said mountain lions normally try to avoid humans, but this cat did not appear to make any effort to avoid contact with people.
The mountain lion was male and was estimated to weigh between 160 and 180 pounds.