Mountain Lion Facts

  • Mountain lion, cougar, puma, panther, painter, and catamount are all different names for the same animal (Puma concolor).
  • Although common at the time of European settlement, the last known historical specimen in Missouri was killed in the Bootheel area in 1927.
  • The nearest known populations of mountain lions are in Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas. However, confirmed reports of mountain lions have increased in several states near Missouri.
  • In states with known mountain lion populations, the cats are seldom seen but do leave signs in the form of tracks, scrapes, scat, and prey kills.
  • Mountain lions prey principally on deer and medium-sized wild mammals, and they occasionally kill livestock and pets.
  • About twenty Missourians have a permit to hold mountain lions in captivity, and an unknown number of people hold them illegally. Captive mountain lions are also common in neighboring states. These animals sometimes escape or are released intentionally, and it is likely they can survive in the wild on abundant deer and furbearer populations.
  • “Black panthers” are not native to North America, but they do exist as melanistic (black color) phases of the leopard (Panthera pardus) found in Africa and Asia and the jaguar (Panthera onca) of Mexico and Central and South America. Throughout its range, no melanistic (black) mountain lion has ever been documented by science.