With the killing of a second cougar in three years in Iowa and the confirmation of another in eastern Iowa, the need for a cougar management plan for Iowa is important.
A call for biodiversity would allow all levels of wildlife to sustain themselves in the wild places of our state. The question is what do we do when wildlife shows up in urban situations.
Education and tolerance will be the key. Unfortunately most people believe that a predator in an urban setting means they are hunting or likely to kill a human. The first thing we all must understand is that people are not prey species. The famous quote is “it could kill someone”. If this is the basis we are going to use for urban wildlife management then every bee found in an urban setting could be subject to death as every year over 100 people die from bee stings, where as only 20 people have been killed by wild cougars in the past 100 years. The bottom line – we fear things we do not understand and the cougar is one of the most misunderstood animals in North America. Do cougars belong in urban settings? the answer is no. However, California has a very good system for managing wildlife predators in urban settings. A simple Red, Yellow, Green assessment in the field determines the outcome for the animal in question. Solutions range from just letting it go, to tranquilization and relocation and finally dispatch in the event of imminent danger to life and or property. Government and non government wildlife management agencies can work together to insure the sustainability of all wildlife species in rural and urban settings as well as educate the general public on the importance of biodiversity and the role wildlife predators play in an ecosystem.
We are seeing a change, an adaptation in wildlife species, where they are trying to reestablish themselves in their former range. This poses a whole new range of questions for researchers and wildlife managers. Why now? Where are the going? Are there patterns of dispersment? What natural corridors exist that they can use? What man made corridors need to be constructed to reduce wandering into urban settings? Has wildlife adapted to people and tolerating our presence? It will take time to find the answers to these and other important questions. Killing an animal is a simple solution but not always the best solution. The belief that killing a cougar, bear or wolf in a urban setting will solve the problem is a belief based on a lack of education. In reality you may have opened up a new territory for another predator to take its place. You wont know when, you wont know where. Where as if you collar that animal, track its location, relocate it when it gets close to a urban setting, it will protect its territory and keep others out. Wildlife management works when we want to spend the time and resources to do it.
Report in the Des Moines Register 12/23/2011: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20111223/NEWS/312230049/Mountain-lion-killed-by-officers-western-Iowa
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