KIRKSVILLE Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has confirmed that a group of hunters killed a young male mountain lion west of La Plata, Mo., on Saturday, Jan. 22. According to conservation agents investigating the incident, the group was hunting coyotes on a landowner’s farm when several hunters came within 20 yards of the big cat. None of the hunters had dogs. Members of the group immediately contacted conservation agents to report the incident.
At this time, no charges have been filed since it appears that the cougar presented enough danger to the hunters to warrant the shooting.
Mountain lions are protected under the Wildlife Code of Missouri. The Code does allow the killing of any mountain lion attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals, or threatening human safety. The incident must be reported to the MDC immediately and the intact carcass, including the pelt, must be surrendered to the MDC within 24 hours.
The animal weighed 128 pounds. Members of the MDC Mountain Lion Response Team will examine the animal to gather additional information, including DNA, to help determine where the big cat came from.
This is the second young male mountain lion killed in Missouri this month and the fourth confirmed report of a mountain lion in Missouri since November.
“These four reports bring our total number of confirmed reports over the past 16 years to just 14,” said Rex Martensen of MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team.
Martensen added that, like in this situation, it appears that mountain lions seen in Missouri are young males roaming from other states in search of territory.
“Young male mountain lions go in search of new territories at about 18 months of age and during this time of year,” he explained. “To date, we have no evidence to suggest that a breeding population of mountain lions exists in Missouri.”
He added that mountain lions are nocturnal, secretive and generally avoid contact with humans.
Mountain lions (Puma concolor), also called cougars, panthers and pumas, were present in Missouri before pioneer settlement. The last documented Missouri mountain lion was killed in the Bootheel in 1927. The closest populations of mountain lions to Missouri are in South Dakota and a small population in northwest Nebraska.
Martensen added that MDC has never stocked or released mountain lions in Missouri and has no plans to do so.
To report a sighting, physical evidence or other mountain-lion incident, contact a local MDC office or conservation agent, or email the Mountain Lion Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on mountain lions in Missouri, visit www.MissouriConservation.org and search “mountain lion.”