LINN GROVE, Iowa (KWQC) – Aaron Anderson did not expect to see the images captured on his trail camera in the wee morning hours of August 31.
A mountain lion can be seen at 2:27 a.m. strolling along a path by a row of corn outside Linn Grove in northwest Iowa, a spot Anderson says is “not far from town.”
Anderson tells KWQC he was excited to have captured the photos “but also freaked out that (a cougar) is actually around.”
Anderson posted the images on his Facebook page with the caption, “the rumors are confirmed Linn Grove, Iowa has a mountain lion!!!!”
This is only the latest in a string of reported sightings of a mountain lion, also known as a cougar, in Iowa, where there have been 21 confirmed sightings statewide since 1995, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Confirmed locations include Clinton County in the Quad Cities Area, where in late August the Blue Grass Police Department reported it had received numerous calls of cougar sightings in recent months.
Wildlife experts say the animal is generally not a threat to humans, however the DNR last June did kill a mountain lion "as a last resort" in western Iowa.
The DNR said this particular cougar in Ida County was a potential threat to nearby humans, livestock, and pets because it was discovered on a farm.
This mountain lion was also notable because it was the first female ever found in Iowa.
Wildlife experts say cougars typically do not stay in Iowa long because although there is plenty of food, there has historically been a lack of females for breeding.
Mountain lions are not protected by Iowa law, according to the Iowa DNR website, which also states, “Although the DNR does not advocate the indiscriminate killing of mountain lions, the few mountain lions that do wander into Iowa are often shot.”
The Iowa DNR says more than 2,000 unconfirmed mountain lion sightings have been reported since 2010, but these reports lack “strong evidence” in the form of legitimate tracks, photos, or video.
After seeing Anderson's photos, the Iowa DNR says it now classifies his report as a confirmed sighting.