A Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) press release says that DNA test results show that four of the 14 mountain lions seen in Missouri last year came from three Western states.
MDC was able to document 12 of the 14 sightings, and four of the documented sighting yielded enough hair or tissue samples to do DNA testing on. DNA tests tied two young male cougars, one from Ray County and the other from Texas County, to the Black Hills area of South Dakota. DNA showed that a Macon County mountain lion was from central Montana. A mountain lion spotted in Oregon County was related to mountain lions from Colorado.
What was going on with mountain lions in Missouri last year is anyone’s guess. Previously, the highest number of sightings in the state in a year was two. This year there have been two as well.
“Increased public awareness and the growing popularity of trail cameras might account for part of the increase in sightings,” says Missouri resource scientist Jeff Beringer in the press release, “but last year’s spike is hard to explain. What we now know for sure is that mountain lions are traveling a long way to get here.”
Photo: Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation