Make no mistake, mountain lions are here in Iowa and they're here to stay. Law enforcement officials in Northeast Iowa have confirmed a sighting of one of the big cats earlier this week.

KCRG reports that someone reported to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that they encountered the animal while they were visiting the area of rural Village Creek in Allamakee County. That person was also able to get a picture of the cougar.

The animal in the photograph was confirmed to be a mountain lion by DNR officials. The post was shared with the public by the Allamakee County Sheriff's Office. KCRG reports that officials are warning residents to avoid cougars if they do see one. They are wild animals, and if you encounter one you are urged to contact the Allamakee Sheriff's office immediately. So that brings up the question, just how many mountain lions are in Iowa?

According to the Des Moines Register, most of the mountain lions spotted in Iowa wander in from out of state following food. The DNR says that between 1995 and 2021 there were 34 mountain lion sightings in the state. As of yet, there is no proof of a self-sustaining population of cougars in Iowa. Most of the animals found here can be traced to states like South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska.

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While many see the big cats as a threat to humans, the DNR says that people are more likely to be killed by a dog or struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion. Personally, I think the cats should be protected in Iowa. Because clearly, they aren't going anywhere soon.

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