Daily Archives: September 27, 2011

Yes, there are mountain lions in Iowa

Are there mountain lions in Iowa? Yes, according to this Sept. 27, 2011, release from the Iowa DNR:


DES MOINES – An image captured on a trail camera in Clinton County during the past week has been confirmed as a mountain lion by wildlife biologists from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“We want the public to know that we have a confirmed photo of a mountain lion, but 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,” Evelsizer said.

The photo was taken from a wooded area along the Wapsipinicon River in the eastern part of Clinton County. DNR 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.

The mountain lion is likely a young male that has been pushed from its native area by older, dominant males. The lion likely came from a state west of Iowa and the fact that is already on Iowa’s far eastern border suggests that it will likely continue to wander. Mountain lions have the ability to move several hundred miles in a short period of time, said Evelsizer.

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

“But in this case, we’ve got a pretty good image from the trail camera. I don’t have any doubt on this one that we have an image of a mountain lion,” said Evelsizer.

In the past 150 years, only 19 U.S. human fatalities have occurred from mountain lion attacks. Fortunately, none have occurred in Iowa. 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.

However, if one has an unexpected rare encounter with a mountain lion the following is recommended:

· 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.

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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Uncategorized



I remember Camp Minneyata

Scouting, both as a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout, where I achieved the rank of Star, taught me a lot and provided many wonderful experiences.

These days it’s known as the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center, a 225-acre area near Dixon, Iowa, that’s managed and operated by the conservation boards of Scott and Clinton counties. And it’s a wonderful place. 

But I’ll always think of it as Camp Minneyata, a former Boy Scouts of America camp along the Wapsi River.

When I was a scout at Troop 53 at Wilson School in Davenport, Iowa, in the 1960s, I was fortunate to get to attend several week-long summer camps at Minneyata.

We slept in tents in camps located in the clearings in the woods. Each troop had its own camp; one I remember staying at was called the Eagle’s Nest. We ate in a large dining hall, hiked in the woods and along the river, visited the trading post, swam in the camp pool and learned things like archery and riflery. All the troops gathered at night and sat on logs ringing a campfire, where we sang songs and heard tall tales like the legend of Wapsi Willie.

I have some specific memories of camp:

* As much as I enjoyed them, I was always homesick during the week-long camps. Families were permitted to visit one night per week, and I’d get a lump in my throat when Mom, Dad and my brother Bruce would depart after a visit. As I recall, Bruce cried, which made it worse. One year I received a letter from my dad while at camp. That meant a lot.

* The most homesick I ever got, though, was the year that Dad had to pick me up one day in the middle of the week, take me to Davenport for a TB shot, then return me to camp. I didn’t want to go back. The reason for the shot? Our family had attended a wedding reception at a neighbor’s house a week or two earlier, and someone at the reception had come down later with TB.

* When you sat at the end of the table in the dining hall, there was no need to ask someone to pass the Kool-Aid or the potatoes to you so you could get a refill. As the items came toward you, everyone helped himself to seconds as he passed them on. Then, when the containers got to you, they were empty.

* One year at Minneyata, word got out that camp officials had found a timber rattlesnake in the archery area. Timber rattlers are found, says, “throughout most of the southeastern United States and ranges northward from Iowa into Minnesota and Wisconsin via a narrow band along the Mississippi River. In Iowa, they are found along the Mississippi River and in various areas in the southern third of the state.” I reasoned if there was one rattlesnake at Camp Minneyata that year, there were probably dozens of them. We slept two boys per tent in sleeping bags on metal cots placed on wooden pallets. I spent some sleepless hours for the next few nights, sure that there were rattlers under my pallet waiting to get me when I drifted off to sleep.

* One morning at camp, many of us woke up with our lips burning. Someone had ringed our mouths with toothpaste overnight as we slept. We must have been quite a sight. 

* One scout, Don, was a bit more advanced than the rest of us. He had a black market operation that he ran out of the back of his tent. He sold items like candy bars and bottles of Pepsi at highly inflated prices to the rest of us. One night, though, troop leaders put an end to it. Don had his own campfire behind his tent, and that night he was heating up a can of soup as a bedtime snack. But he had neglected to punch a hole in the can, and it exploded. When we all ran behind Don’s tent to see what had made the popping sound, he had a look of shock on his face. The back of his tent was wet with soup broth, and noodles were sliding down the canvas. Noodles also hung from nearby tree branches. By the way, Don is now a successful Davenport businessman.

Copyright 2011 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.


Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Uncategorized



Remembering Grandma Roberts

Grace, left, and Dorothy Roberts at Christmas in 1963. Phil Roberts photo.

I can remember some funny things about my paternal grandmother, Grace Roberts.

One story she related to us dealt with a tube of a pain-relieving ointment like Deep Heat or Infrarub. Grandma must not have had her glasses on one morning when she was preparing to brush her teeth.

That’s because she mistakenly put a dab of the ointment instead of toothpaste on her toothbrush and began — but certainly didn’t finish — brushing her teeth.

Another funny incident occurred when grandma was visiting us on Dugan Court. It involved our pet Chihuahua, Tippy, whose tail was always straight in the air.

Grandma always wore dresses and never slacks. Once either my brother or I had spotted a garter snake on the west side of the house and told mom.

We probably reported the sighting instead of just walking away because Dad hated snakes and insisted on killing any that were found on our property.

This sighting, however, came while dad was at work. So we told mom.

Mom, Grandma and Tippy came outside for a look at the snake. But, by the time they arrived, the serpent was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he had gone into a hole in the ground.

Anyway, Mom and Grandma were bent over, studying the ground next to the foundation, looking for the snake, when Tippy walked up behind them.

His tail brushed the back of Grandma’s bare leg and you can guess the rest. Grandma Roberts nearly jumped out of her skin!

Copyright 2011 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.

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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Uncategorized