Talk about lost.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff confirmed they found a mountain lion in the eastern part of the state in recent weeks. The beast was photographed by a trail camera.

The DNR’s press release picks up the story here:

“We don’t want to alarm the public,” said Vince Evelsizer, a DNR wildlife biologist. “When it comes to mountain lions, Iowa tends to be a place to pass through, but not to stay. It is very likely this animal will keep moving, if it’s even still in the area, and will keep to itself.”

(It’s probably looking for a mountain. The closest thing Iowa has is Hawkeye Point, the state’s highest hill, elevation 1,670 feet.)

The photo was taken in a wooded area along the Wapsipinicon River in the eastern part of Clinton County. Conservation officers were able to confirm the location where the photo was taken by matching the surrounding landscape to what is shown in the photo, according to the press release.

DNR officials went on to say the mountain lion is likely a young male that has been pushed from its native area by older, dominant males. They have the ability to move several hundred miles in a short period of time, said Evelsizer. The lion likely came from a state west of Iowa.

(FYI: The Rocky Mountains in Colorado are about 800 miles away.)

While the DNR gets many reports each year of mountain lion sightings, only a very small percentage are ever confirmed by the department, according to the press release. Most sightings are mistaken identity with other animals such as bobcats or yellow coated dogs.

According to the DNR, only 19 people have been killed in mountain lion attacks in the United States in the last 150 years — none have occurred in Iowa.

The DNR offers the following safety tips. Generally a mountain lion will sense human presence before humans know they are in the area and the mountain lions will quickly vacate the area. But, if you accidently sneak up on one:

— DON’T RUN! Running will stimulate certain animals to chase you (like a dog that wants to bite you, especially if you run).
— Stand tall, look big, puff up, lift your coat over your shoulders.
— Take control of the situation. Scream loudly, throw objects.
— Gather children in close and slowly back away keeping your eye of the animal.
— If attacked, fight back vigorously with sharp objects and poke the eyes of the animal.