Mountain Lion Attacks
There is no substantive evidence that mountain lions have attacked livestock, pets, or people in Missouri. People, livestock, and pets are at much greater risk from traffic, stray dogs, and lightning strikes than they are from mountain lions. Although mountain lions rarely attack people, some have occurred in western states.
Mountain lions are protected under the provisions of the Wildlife Code. However, section 3 CSR 10-4.130 (6) of the Code allows the killing of any mountain lion that is attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals, or threatening human safety. Mountain lions killed during the protection of life or property must be reported to MDC immediately and the intact carcass, including pelt, surrendered within 24 hours.
- 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.
More than 100 yards away and moving away
Human Risk: Negligible
Appropriate Human Response: Keep children where they can be observed.
100–50 yards away; various positions and movements; attention away from people
Human Risk: Negligible
Appropriate Human Response: 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)
Human risk: Minor/None
Appropriate human response: 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
Human risk: Slight for adults; Serious for unaccompanied children
Appropriate human response: 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
Meaning: Considering/positioning for attack
Human risk: Serious
Appropriate human response: 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
Meaning: Pre‐attack/attack imminent
Human risk: Extreme
Appropriate human response: 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!