EMINENCE, Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Mountain Lion Response Team has confirmed a trail-camera photograph of a mountain lion taken Sept. 20 at the Rocky Creek Conservation Area southwest of Eminence. MDC conservation agents confirmed the location of the photo, which shows a mountain lion moving away from the camera.
MDC Wildlife Damage Biologist Rex Martensen, who is a member of the Response Team, said that widely scattered mountain-lion sightings have been confirmed in Missouri and likely will continue. Recent confirmed sightings include two trail-camera photographs in Shannon County and one in Oregon County. A cougar was also recently shot by a landowner in Texas County.
Based on the lack of distinguishing physical characteristics, Martensen said that MDC does not know if the Rocky Creek, Shannon County and Oregon County photos are of the same animal.
He added that evidence to date indicates these animals are dispersing from other states to the west of Missouri. The most extreme evidence of this dispersal occurred in early 2011 when a mountain lion that was killed in Connecticut was genetically traced to South Dakota. MDC has no confirmed evidence of a breeding population in Missouri.
“MDC receives many reports each year from people who believe they have seen mountain lions,” Martensen said. “We encourage these reports, but we can only confirm those for which there is physical evidence such as hair, scat, footprints, photos, video, a dead cougar or prey showing evidence of mountain-lion attack.”
Reports of sightings can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by contacting local conservation agents or the Response Team at 573-882-9909, ext. 3211, or 573-522-4115, ext. 3147 or 3262.
Martensen added that mountain lions are naturally shy of humans and generally pose little danger to people, even in states with thriving breeding populations. Although mountain lions are protected by law, Missouri’s Wildlife Code does allow people to protect themselves and their property if they feel threatened.
For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov and search “mountain lion.”