I've been catching up on the History Channels series Alone. If you haven't seen it, people get stranded in the wilderness with limited supplies and are told to survive for as long as they can, alone. In all the seasons I 've seen, only one animal has really seemed scary to encounter; Cougars.

puma cougar angry Snarling
Credit: mhong84

And it seems they are continuing their move into and across the Midwest.

Credit: Successful Farming
Credit: Successful Farming

This map was from 2008, where a study found:

"178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest with the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008. Approximately 62% of confirmed sightings took place within 20km of habitat that would be considered suitable for cougar populations."

Take these big cats spotted in Iowa just few days ago. One in Madison County and one in Warren. 

As the post mentions it could be the same cougar, but that's just more evidence of them moving across the area seeking food, mates, and a livable environment. And trust me, they would much rather avoid you at all costs.

Credit: Iowa DNR
Credit: Iowa DNR

According to the Iowa DNR

"Mountain lions have no legal wildlife status in Iowa. That means that they can be taken and possessed by anyone at anytime as long as legal methods and means are used to take the animal. Mountain lions and black bears are not listed in the Iowa Code as designated wildlife species, because they were extirpated before fish and game legislation became prominent."

Livestock farmers certainly don't want cougars around as it can be a danger to calves, sheep, chickens, and most domesticated livestock; although the local deer populations are the ones that should be most scared. In addition, most Cougars discovered in the Midwest are roaming young adult males, not of breeding age. This means local numbers should remain low as no wild breeding pairs have been found in the agricultural belt.

That being said, the Midwestern areas can provide plenty of resources to sustain a big cat population.

Cougar growling displaying teeth. Photographed in Minnesota USA.
Credit: JohnPitcher

But since they are roaming through the area, how can you deal with one, should you stumble across them on a hike, a bike ride, while hunting, or at the farm?

  1. DO NOT RUN! Running will stimulate the cats urge to hunt/attack you.
  2. Stand tall and make yourself BIG.
  3. Attack first. Scream loudly at the would be attacker and throw objects if necessary.
  4. Keep children and small pets close; standing between them and the cougar while slowly backing away.
  5. If attacked, fight back with a sharp object if possible, aiming for the eyes of the big cat.

Remember, attacks are extremely rare, as is even seeing a big cat in the Midwest. I mean we have bobcats here, and you rarely if ever see one due to their nocturnal and solitary habits, just like the cougar.


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