Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
For the first time since 1994, the Missouri Department of Conservation has made a definitive confirmation that a female mountain lion is present in Missouri.
DNA results indicate that she likely came from the Black Hills of Wyoming, South Dakota and Northwest Nebraska.
“Mountain lions are still rare in Missouri,” MDC Wildlife Management Coordinator Alan Leary says in a press release. “The detection of a female increases the likelihood that breeding could occur within the state, but at this point we don’t have evidence that a breeding population exists in Missouri.”
The department has listed 68 confirmed mountain lion sightings in Missouri since 1994. However, all the mountain lions detected since the creation of Missouri's Mountain Lion Response Team in 1996 have either proven to be male or have lacked evidence to accurately confirm their sex.
MDC Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee explains that confirmations have become more common in recent years.
“We know the mountain lion population has grown in western states, and that could translate to more dispersing mountain lions making their way into Missouri, but we have also gotten better at finding them,” Conlee says. “As technology has advanced, we’ve seen an explosion in the numbers of game cameras across the Missouri landscape. We’ve also established more efficient methods for reporting and investigating mountain lion sightings. These factors all likely play a role in the increased number of confirmed mountain lion sightings in our state.”
However, there's no need to freak out — the risk of being attacked by a mountain lion is still very unlikely. No attack on a human has ever been reported in Missouri.
As the MDC continues to research mountain lions, you're encouraged to report any sightings, physical evidence or other incidents to the Mountain Lion Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's note: This post has been slightly edited to clarify years of events.