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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Would you shoot a cougar?

December 18, 2009 at 03:22 AM

Word that a male mountain lion was shot on Monday by a deer hunter near Iowa City hit home on several counts.

For one thing, just one week earlier I was rambling through the uplands of northwest and north-central Iowa hunting pheasants. To reach its final resting place of Marengo, the big cat likely passed through northwest or north-central Iowa.

Then too, Marengo is roughly 90 miles west of the Illinois border. Could that cat have reached Illinois? Surely. The way male mountain lions range, that’s not far at all.

This cat’s traveling days ended Monday afternoon at the hand of deer hunter Raymond Goebel, Jr., of Cedar Rapids. Goebel shot the cat out of a tree, where it was perched 15 yards above the ground.

When Goebel first spotted the cat he didn’t believe his eyes. Only after looking through the scope on his gun — and discussing game laws with his hunting partners —  did he shoot the 125-pound male.

The cougar killing raises an interesting question. Would you shoot a mountain lion if you encountered one?

Understand, that would be completely legal in Iowa and in Illinois. But is it ethical? Necessary?

Speaking for myself, I’d like to think I would let a big cat walk unless it approached in a menacing fashion. Then again, I’d probably miss anyway, rendering the
point moot.

But I’m probably in the minority. Most seem bound and determined to eradicate large predators. And there are enough hunters in Illinois to make it pretty tough for bears, wolves and cougars to stick around very long.

My prediction is that within the next decade, we’ll have a real debate on whether or not to protect these large predators under the Illinois Wildlife Code.

This is the first confirmed Iowa cougar in more than five years and the fourth killed in our western neighbor. Illinois has three confirmed cougar killings.

Those are official totals. I bet a handful of big cats were shot and never reported. Certainly there have been thousands of “sightings” that never panned outl.

“They are not here in great numbers,” Iowa furbearer biologist Ron Andrews said.  “But this shooting will likely prompt many additional unconfirmed sightings. Our experience investigating these reports has found that more than 90 percent are mistaken identity for bobcats, yellow-colored dogs or deer, which are the same color as mountain lions.”


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