A mountain lion roaming a northeast Des Moines neighborhood was shot and killed by law enforcement officers Thursday because of the proximity to an elementary school.
The site is about six miles from the eastern Urbandale city limits, according to Google Maps.
Des Moines Police were called to the 3900 block of Columbia Street about 9:30 a.m. by a homeowner who spotted the cat under plants in his back yard, reports KCCI.com.
The scene is about two blocks north of Euclid Avenue in a Highland Park neighborhood.
Police said an officer shot the mountain lion near a greenhouse in the back yard of the home. The animal was 6 feet 3 inches long, police said.
"The officers knew, due to the size of the mountain lion, that its escape would be of great danger to the public. The lion made a dashing move, leaving officers no choice but to shoot the lion," KCCI quoted police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Scott.
Police said that about two hours before the shooting that there were reports of a mountain lion around Madison Elementary School.
The scene is close to two Des Moines schools: two blocks north of Harding Middle School and four blocks west of Madison Elementary School, according to the TV station.
Jeff Swearngin, a conservation officer from the Department of Natural Resources, told KCCI it appears the animal was just roaming the area.
On July 12, a mountain lion was spotted in an area west of where the cat was shot Thursday, said KCCI. A resident of a Norwoodville neighborhood, which is just southeast of the east mixmaster, reported a mountain lion in the 3200 block of Northeast 46th Street on July 12. Children at the Norwoodville Rec Center were told to go inside as a precaution.
Mountain Lions in Iowa City in 2011
In September 2011 there was widespread media coverage of a mountain lion sighting on the east side of Iowa City, the sixth such report in three weeks.
KCRG-TV and its partner The Cedar Rapids Gazette had a story last year that quoted Johnson County Animal Services supervisor Misha Goodman as saying, “Very few cougars have been hunted or killed in Iowa within the past 25 years, but we take all sightings very seriously.”
Police could not find the wild cat, which was reported as a cougar, another name for a mountain lion. But that came about two weeks after two people reported a mountain lion near Horn Elementary, which prompted a soft lock-down of that Iowa City school.
If you encounter a mountain lion, you can take steps to stay safe.
You should not run, according to Iowa City animal services. Provide the animal space so it can avoid you, and don't crouch because it could mistake you for an animal, Goodman said. Make eye contact, stand your ground, make yourself appear larger by extending your jacket and waving your arms and speak in a loud, firm voice, she advises.