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If You Encounter a Mountain Lion

Mountain Lions in Missouri

  • When you go afield in Missouri, keep in mind that your chance of having a dangerous encounter with a mountain lion is very small — almost nonexistent.
  • You, your pets, or your livestock are at much greater risk from automobiles, stray dogs, and lightning strikes than from mountain lions.
  • If you DO directly encounter a mountain lion in Missouri, responding appropriately may improve your chances of survival.
  • Before going afield, study the table below to learn the differences between threatening and nonthreatening behavior and appropriate responses to each.
  • If you see a mountain lion in Missouri, please report it.
Mountain lion behavior and suggested human response
Behavior/Activity Meaning Human Risk Appropriate Human Response
More than 100 yards away and moving away Avoidance Negligible Keep children where they can be observed.
100–50 yards away; various positions and movements; attention away from people Indifference Negligible Remain calm; do not approach. Avoid rapid movements or running. Make your presence known then slowly back away / leave the area.
In a tree (including treed by dogs) Avoidance Minor/None Leash dogs; move away from tree until out of sight and allow animal to escape.
100–50 yards away; various or changing positions; ears up; attention toward people and/or following people Curiosity Slight for Adults; Serious for Unaccompanied Children Hold small children; keep older children close. Assume standing position; do not turn your back. Look for sticks, rocks, or other weapons and pick them up using an aggressive posture; do your best to appear large and threatening.
50–25 yards away; intense staring and hiding coupled with crouching and/or creeping toward people Considering/Positioning for Attack Serious Move slowly to get behind trees or boulders, but don't lose sight of the animal. Make menacing sounds; throw things if animal is close enough to hit.
25 yards or closer; tail twitching; body and head low to ground; rear legs may be gently pumping or treading up and down Pre‐Attack/Attack Imminent Extreme Prepare to defend yourself using whatever weapons are available (including lethal). Pepper spray may be effective if animal is close and downwind. If animal attacks, fight back!

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