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Published on: Mar. 20, 2012

our bears are Missouri natives, since we have had reproduction for at least a couple decades.

Things are a little different for mountain lions. The main source of our lions appears to be the Black Hills of South Dakota and perhaps the Pine Ridge-area of Nebraska. Analysis of DNA from tissue and hair samples collected from Missouri mountain lions indicates that the cats were born more than 800 miles away. Whether these animals actually establish home ranges in Missouri is questionable.

Mountain lion researchers suggest that young males disperse at a high rate but don’t settle into a home range until they have found a mate. We did some detective work on a radio-collared male that was photographed in Linn County last winter and found that the cat probably originated in South Dakota. It was photographed in Michigan this past October, probably still looking for romance.

Females generally don’t disperse far from their birth sites (less than 75 miles), so we have only a small chance of a female making it to Missouri. However, as mountain lions colonize former ranges in Nebraska, the likelihood of female dispersal to Missouri increases.

Living With Large Carnivores

Black bears, mountain lions and human populations coexist throughout North America. As human populations grow, the likelihood of interactions with these animals will increase. Most folks consider it a lifetime experience to see a black bear or mountain lion in the wild. With black bears, these situations usually involve human foods, and that can lead to problems. Mountain lions aren’t interested in human foods but are occasionally seen by hikers or hunters.

Black Bears

Bears are adaptable, intelligent animals and may learn to associate humans and their homes or campsites with food. Bears are attracted to these areas by the smell of food. In this regard, bears are much like teenage boys—they are always hungry.

In Missouri, common food attractants include bird feeders, garbage and pet or livestock food. Residential bear problems usually occur because natural food supplies are limited before berries ripen in the spring and during the fall when acorn production is low.

Typical bear problems involve overturned garbage containers, trash littered across the yard, bears entering dog pens or coming onto porches to eat pet foods or damaging bird feeders. Most bear problems have simple solutions— don’t give bears access to whatever they are trying to eat. Put your trash out on the

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