The latest mountain lion to appear in Missouri has been shot and killed in Texas County by a landowner. The adolescent male will be DNA tested for evidence of its origin.

It is the latest in a series of mountain lion sightings in Missouri this year. Three miles away in Shannon County, a landowner’s trail camera capture the image of a cougar July 29. Another camera caught a shot of one August 23 northeast of Alton.

Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer says the Department of Conservation believes the cougars seen in the state this year are all males from the Black Hills in South Dakota, looking for mates. Those cougars that have yielded DNA samples in Missouri have all traced back to South Dakota.

Beringer says young males are forced to leave their native territory and will roam until they find a mate. The habitat in Missouri is good for mountain lions, but he says no females have been found here since the mid 1990s. The Department believes, then, that there is little chance that the young males will stay in Missouri.  The state has not been thought to have a breeding population since the late 1920s at the most recent. 

A paper from South Dakota State University outlines research done to track the movement of cougars. Animals from that state’s Black Hills have been seen to move as far away as Oklahoma and Connecticut. It urges wildlife agencies to be proactive in dealing with the public in places like Missouri where cougars could continue dispersing.

State wildlife code protects mountain lions, but allows for shooting them when they threaten livestock or people. The Department of Conservation asks the public to report all contact with those animals in the state.

Listen to Mike Lear’s interview with Jeff Beringer 9:17 mp3