Mountain Lion Reports

Mountain lion looking at you from behind a tree.
Mountain Lion

MDC Efforts

The Department has never stocked mountain lions in Missouri, and it has no plans to do so.

In 1996 MDC established a Mountain Lion Response Team (MLRT) with specially trained staff to investigate reports and evidence of mountain lions. The MLRT has investigates hundreds of mountain lion reports, but most reported sightings and tracks turn out to be bobcats or large dogs. The MLRT has confirmed fewer than 100 cases.

MDC wants to learn more about mountain lions in Missouri and encourages all citizens to report sightings, physical evidence, or other incidents so they can be thoroughly investigated. To make a report, contact MLRT at

Many Investigations, Few Confirmations

Each year the MLRT investigates hundreds of mountain-lion sighting reports. Of the thousands of reports received since 1994, less than 1 percent have yielded enough physical evidence to clearly confirm the presence of a mountain lion. In addition to dogs and bobcats, house cats, coyotes, foxes, and deer have also been mistaken for mountain lions.

Because mountain lions are reclusive animals, it's hard to know exactly when and where they may be present. Although a reported sighting can be very compelling, we must gather hard evidence before we can confirm a mountain lion sighting.

No Established Breeding Population

A female was detected in 2016 which increases the chances that breeding could occur in the state, but MDC currently has no evidence of reproduction within Missouri. All other confirmations have either been males or had  insufficient evidence to determine sex.

Slim Chance of a Dangerous Encounter

The return of mountain lions to Missouri is exciting to some, but frightening to others. Because mountain lions have been absent from our state for so long, most Missourians have never seen them and don’t know much about their behavior. Mountain lions are naturally shy of people and seldom cause problems, even in states with thriving populations. The danger of a mountain lion attack is highly unlikely compared to many other familiar dangers we encounter every day. For example, more than 50,000 people die in automobile accidents in the United States each year. Lightning kills another 86 people, and dogs kill 80 more. In contrast, fatal mountain lion attacks have averaged one in every seven years since 1980.

Confirming Mountain Lion Evidence

How does the Mountain Lion Response Team determine if you saw a mountain lion or house cat? View this slideshow to see how.