DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A House panel declined to advance a bill that would have made it illegal in many instances to kill a mountain lion in Iowa.
Members of a natural resources subcommittee expressed concern over details in an exemption in the bill that would have allowed a person to kill a mountain lion if the person feared for their safety.
Rep. Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, questioned whether a person could fear a mountain lion nearby or one that was further away.
“Who makes the decision on whether you made the right choice or not?” asked Rep. Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield.
There is no current law that prevents a person from killing a mountain lion, also known as a cougar. The bill would have increased protection for the animals by specifying that a person accused of trapping, wounding or killing a mountain lion could be charged with a simple misdemeanor. That may lead to jail time or a fine.
The bill will not advance during the current legislature session. That's disappointing, said Shane Griffin, a firefighter from Nevada, Iowa. He helped draft the bill and spoke Wednesday to lawmakers. He advocated for a similar bill last session but that one didn't advance either.
Griffin said mountain lions are fearful of humans. He also said several nearby states, including Illinois, have laws that offer mountain lions some protection from killings.
“Fear is the absence of knowledge,” he said.
There have been less than 20 confirmed sightings of mountain lions in Iowa in the past 20 years, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.