A bill that would have afforded legal protections to cougars in Iowa has been scratched, as lawmakers declined to advance it for discussion.
The bill was proposed by Shane Griffin, a firefighter and paramedic from Nevada, Iowa who believes cougars have a place in his home state. Despite his passionate and informed testimony that mountain lions are a native species that people can coexist safely with the large predators, senators were unmoved, instead preferring to talk about the animal in mythical terms and claiming it was a serious danger to people and pets.
Currently, mountain lions have no legal status in Iowa. They may be killed anywhere at anytime, no questions asked. The proposed bill “would have prohibited wounding, killing, trapping,capturing or collecting a cougar — also known as a mountain lion — in Iowa, and made such offenses a misdemeanor crime. It included exceptions for situations in which a person, property or livestock was endangered.”
There have been 19 cougar sightings in Iowa since 1995, a sign that the elusive cat is gradually making it’s way back to midwestern states. However, without adequate protections and social tolerance, these cats are unlikely to colonize states like Iowa. That is why this bill – similar to a recently passed law in Illinois that added mountain lions, gray wolves, and black bears to the state’s protected species list – could have been so significant.