Mountain Lion In Iowa: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Mountain Lion In Iowa
Mountain Lion In Iowa: Everything You Need To Know

Iowa is one of the few states that historically inhabited three big cats. Mountain lion is the largest of them all with lynx and bobcats being the other two in the family.

Though once almost extirpated, the bobcat population has recently been re-established in the state. While originally present in almost all parts of the state, mountain lions are now extirpated from Iowa similar to Lynx. 

However, as there have been few sightings of these magnificent creatures, its important to know and understand their role in the ecosystem. 

So below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about the mountain lions in Iowa 

Is There a Mountain Lion in Iowa?

No, there is no established population of mountain lions in Iowa. Though historically present throughout the state, mountain lions were extirpated from Iowa in the early 1900s due to various reasons with the most critical being habitat loss and extensive hunting. 

The last recorded mountain lion in the state was in 1867, which was shot and captured in Appanoose County near the town of Cincinnati, Iowa.

While there have been a few occasional sightings of these creatures in the state, only a few of them have been confirmed. However, each of these sightings signifies the movement of lions into Iowa and sadly there hasn’t been any breeding population established yet. 

Only when a female mountain lion breeds and give birth, we can say that the mountain lions are back. Till then, we can only confirm their movement across the state.

What Part of Iowa Has Mountain Lions?

Also known as Cougars, mountain lions are not native to Iowa. While they were present in the state in the past, they have currently been eradicated since the early 1900s.

While there have been few sightings of these creatures in the wild forests, these are believed to be individual lions from nearby states. These individuals are believed to be migrating and not breeding which is not a good sign. 

The state authorities haven’t introduced mountain lions or are planning to into Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is monitoring and controlling the natural expansion of mountain lions from nearby states. 

Therefore, as sightings have improved and these are tracked meticulously, it’s not too late when we can see a native mountain lion of Iowa.

How Do Mountain Lions Get in Iowa?

Mountain Lion In Iowa
Mountain Lion In Iowa: Everything You Need To Know

Mountain lions are apex predators that occupy the top position in the ecosystem. Their diet predominantly consists of elks and deer and sometimes includes small animals like rabbits too depending on the availability of prey in the location. 

Similar to other wild animals, mountain lions too migrate in search of food and are believed to even cover 30 to 125 square miles, making them the mammals with the largest “home range” in America. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a few of these creatures have also migrated into Iowa.

As per state reports, most of the sightings in Iowa have occurred in the western part of the state. This provides a clue that most of the migration is happening from the states/counties on the west side of the state. 

These include South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming which still have a good population of mountain lions. Therefore, it is mostly through these states that the mountain lions enter Iowa from the west.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions IN US

Mountain Lion Sightings in Iowa?

Since 2010, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has received about 2000 mountain lion sighting reports. 

While only a handful of those has been confirmed sightings, other being bobcats, it’s a positive sign that these big cats have been moving into the state from nearby regions.

As the state doesn’t plan on reintroducing mountain lions into Iowa, the only way their numbers could be increased is through the natural expansion of their range. Such constant monitoring and confirming of sightings would also help achieve the population numbers soon.

Can You Shoot Mountain Lions in Iowa?

Currently, Mountain lions are not provided any protection. While the Iowa Department of Natural Resources doesn’t advocate their hunting, most of the lions that do enter the state are mostly shot and killed. 

Although the state body did try to bring in protection for these big cats, the legislature denied it. Therefore, while it is legal to hunt a mountain lion, it is now more significant for people to be aware of these animals’ status in the state and act accordingly. Instead of hunting mountain lions when you see one, contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources so that these can be relocated.

It’s also important to note that statutory laws change more often than not. Therefore, before preparing for hunting, contact the local government for rules, regulations, and precautions to be followed.

Can You Own a Mountain Lions in Iowa?

As mountain lions in Iowa don’t have legal status in the Iowa code, it is legal to own a mountain lion. However, it’s important to note that wild animals of any kind are not safe as a pet, especially in a city/town. Wild animals need to be in the wild away from dense populations and cities. 

While these animals may obey during captivity, they easily revert to their original instincts and pose a potential threat to humans. Additionally, these creatures are elusive, top hunters which makes it difficult to capture them when they run away.

Mountain lions also require special care from food to constant check-ups as being a wild animal, there are possibilities for mountain lions to be infected with diseases.

Therefore, if you are passionate about seeing mountain lions, travel to any nearby zoo or wildlife park to observe them at their home.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In Georgia


And that was everything you need to know about the mountain lions in Iowa. I hope this article was informative enough and your queries were answered.

Thank You For Reading!

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