Mystery Over Viral Mountain Lion Video in Iowa Solved

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Evgeny555 via Getty Images)

The odds of being fatally attacked by a mountain lion are around one in a billion. You’re far more likely to be killed by a lightning strike or win the Powerball lottery than you are to be mauled by a cougar.

That said, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Maintaining a safe distance from mountain lions is the best way to protect yourself. If you find yourself in the presence of one, stay calm, stand up straight, and back away slowly. By making noise and acting defiant, you can discourage the lion’s hunting instincts by distancing your appearance from that of their typical prey.

These are the exact pieces of advice given to Des Moines, Iowa, residents after a “possible mountain lion” sighting in the area. Des Moines Police took to social media to warn citizens of a reported sighting in a local neighborhood.

They even included a video showing the rogue cougar so residents would know the big cat when they saw it and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) confirmed the animal’s identity.

As it turns out, however, it wasn’t a mountain lion at all. Hilariously, the big cat in the video was just that – a large grey house cat. The DNR has since revised its initial statement.

“Initially, we did think it may be a mountain lion,” said Vince Evelsizer, DNR biologist. “At least enough so that it would be good to notify the public.”

According to Evelsizer, the video was grainy and small, making it difficult to tell the exact identity of the animal. But in case it was a mountain lion, they thought it better to warn the public than let the video go uncirculated. The DNR then apologized for the confusion.

Mountain Lion Spotted on California Trail

The day after the house cat was spotted in Des Moines, Iowa, two actual mountain lion sightings were reported out west. Well, we can assume they were real mountain lions. It’s fairly unlikely a house cat would venture out to a mountainous 3-mile hiking trail.

The City of Redlands warned hikers and residents of the sightings in the canyon areas of south Redlands. As one of the sightings took place on the Saha’tapa Loop Trail, officials temporarily closed the hike to the public.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife echoed the fact that mountain lion attacks are exceedingly rare. While outdoorsmen report hundreds of mountain lion sightings annually in California alone, the chances of a cougar mauling are slim to none. Not a single one of the documented sightings included an attack on a human.

However, just like the Iowa Police Department and DNR explained, it’s better to take proactive measures than deal with the aftermath of a cougar attack.