Mountain Lions In Missouri

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

in their range.

Mountain lions prefer dense cover or rocky, rugged terrain, generally in areas of low human habitation, or regions of dense swamps. The size of the home range is typically 50 to 75 square miles for females and 90 to several hundred square miles for males. Mountain lions are generally nocturnal and are active near dawn and dusk. They feed on deer and other medium-sized and large mammals. On average, a typical adult lion kills and consumes about one deer per week.

Female mountain lions have litters of 2 to 3 kittens. Blind and 12 inches long at birth, they weigh about 1 pound. They are buff, spotted with black, and have dark rings on their tails. Once they stop nursing, the female carries food to them until they accompany her at about 2 months of age. The kittens lose their spots gradually. They are usually gone by 18 months of age, when young lions begin to leave home.

Adult females often share territory with their female offspring, although some disperse. Adult males are solitary and territorial and may kill other males and kittens they encounter. This forces young males to leave these territories in search of suitable, unoccupied areas.

Mountain lion populations in western states have grown recently, and as the habitats fill up, new animals born each year have to travel farther locate suitable living space. In the Midwest and eastern Texas, biologists have confirmed physical evidence of mountain lions at least 65 times since 1990.

Recently several mountain lions made headlines when they were killed by cars, trains or police officers in suburban neighborhoods in Midwestern towns. Some biologists believe that they made use of travel corridors along the Missouri River and other rivers. Young male mountain lions have wandered into Fulton, Missouri; Kansas City, Missouri; South Sioux City, Nebraska; Yankton, South Dakota; and Omaha, Nebraska. In central Iowa, hunters killed one young male lion and a trail camera caught another on film.

Biologists in South Dakota estimate that each year 20 to 25 yearling mountain lions—mostly males—are leaving the Black Hills, forced out by adult males that already occupy the best habitats. One animal was fitted with a radio collar that had been attached during a study of lion survival. It moved 667 miles before it was struck by a train in northern Oklahoma. Another radio-marked male traveled more than 500 miles into northern Minnesota. A recent report documented a

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