“The wildlife code protects mountain lions from being killed unless it is killing livestock or domestic animals, or threatening human life. If one is shot, it must be reported to a conservation agent within 24 hours.”
So far, the Missour Department of Conservation has done nothing to protect cougars. The two cougars were not preying on livestock and were not threatening humans, but the hunters who killed them will not be prosecuted.
Mountain lion killed west of La Plata
By Jason Hunsicker
Kirksville, Mo. —
Despite the sighting, shooting and killing of a mountain lion by Amish farmers west of La Plata Saturday, local residents do not need to be fearful of the massive cats becoming prevalent in the region.
Matt Wolken, protection regional supervisor at the Northeast Region office of the Missouri Department of Conservation, said Saturday’s incident is just the 14th confirmed mountain lion sighting in Missouri in the last 16 years, and only the second in the 15-county northeast region during the same time period.
The mountain lion killed Saturday weighed 128 pounds and measured more than six feet from head to tail, and fit the profile of a juvenile cat around 18 months old. Wolken said the body would be transported to the resource science center in Columbia today for an autopsy.
More than likely, if the cat is determined to be wild it is from one of the known breeding populations in North Dakota, South Dakota or Texas.
“Adult males have huge home ranges and they will not tolerate any other males in their home ranges,” Wolken said. “They run the males out.”
The young males then wander to set up their own territory. Due to similar reports in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, the belief is the mountain lions are coming down the Missouri River corridor in search of a mate.
All but one of the mountain lions confirmed in Missouri since 1994 were males.
“We have no indication there is a breeding population in the state,” Wolken said.
Saturday’s kill came while a group of Amish farmers were doing a predator sweep on a farm near the junction of Highways 156 and 3. Around 80 or 90 farmers, armed with shotguns, circled the property and moved inward in search of coyotes.
“One of them was walking down and a mountain lion came out from under a cedar tree 100 yards away and was looking at him. Scared him to death,” Wolken said.
He shot it, shouted there was a mountain lion nearby, and another farmer took a shot. Around 12 of them converged on the animal believing it was dead before they said it jumped to its feet again. They fired and killed the cat.
The wildlife code protects mountain lions from being killed unless it is killing livestock or domestic animals, or threatening human life. If one is shot, it must be reported to a conservation agent within 24 hours.
The farmers called shortly after the incident that occurred around 3 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re not pursuing any criminal charges,” Wolken said.
The autopsy will determine the age and heritage of the cat, as well as whether it was captive. About 20 Missourians have a permit to hold mountain lions in captivity and each are tagged electronically. If one escapes, the conservation department must be notified immediately.
No reports of escaped captive mountain lions have been received. Wolken said if this cat is determined to be captive, an investigation would be launched. If a violation is found, a person would face a fine up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail.
Wolken said the department receives numerous reports of mountain lions during the year and all are investigated. Nearly all of them are determined to be another animal.
If someone believes he or she has seen a mountain lion, they should report it to the conservation department immediately by calling (660) 785-2420 or e-mailing the Mountain Lion Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wolken said it’s unlikely the mountain lion would pose a threat to humans. They prey on deer and medium-sized wild animals, occasionally killing livestock and pets.
“In areas where they have good populations of mountain lions the people rarely see them. They are very shy, nocturnal and don’t want anything to do with people,” he said. “In those areas, attacks are very rare. Your chances of getting attacked by a mountain lion are almost nil. You’re much more likely to be attacked by a dog or struck by lightning.”