Are There Mountain Lions In Missouri? Everything You Need To Know

Mountain Lions In Missouri

Mountain lions are the species of big cats that are most commonly found throughout the Americas. Slender, graceful, and highly adaptable, they’re wary of human beings and human habitations. That’s why you won’t find them in the eastern half of the United States of America, as they much prefer to stick to the less inhabited mountains and deserts of the east.

Are There Mountain Lions In Missouri?

Mountain lions are considered an extirpated species in Missouri, meaning they’re extinct in that particular area. Missouri doesn’t have an official mountain lion population. However, there are still regular sightings every year. Then how do we see them if they don’t live in the area? 

Well, it’s because mountain lions are always on the roam. They don’t recognize state borders and keep crossing over from other states. Sometimes, young males will go looking for new territories. They don’t really make permanent homes or seek to settle in a place permanently. 

We know that Missouri hasn’t had a mountain lion population since 1927. But at the same time, the states had confirmed sightings of mountain lions for years. In 2023, these sightings doubled, leading people to believe there’s been an uptick in migrations.

Experts say it’s a sign that the environment is becoming healthier and the prey base is rising. It could lead to mountain lions officially populating the wilder areas of the state and beginning to breed. If new cubs are born in Missouri, it’ll become one of the states that have an official mountain lion population again.

How Many Mountain Lions In Missouri?

Official numbers would tell us that there aren’t any mountain lions in Missouri at all. There isn’t a breeding population and the animals that are spotted probably aren’t local. But they’re a species that loves to move around a lot so there might be a few wandering through the state. Missouri isn’t that far from Nebraska or Texas, after all, which do have mountain lion populations.

Where Do Mountain Lions Live in Missouri?

Mountain Lions In Missouri

Mountain lions don’t actually live in Missouri. But they’ve been spotted all over the state, even as far east as Wayne, Madison, St. Louis, Warren, and Lewis counties. The most recent sightings were in Dallas County and Franklin County. We can see really high deer populations throughout the state, so the big cats should have plenty of food if they decide to move in.

Mountain lions love rocky areas and vegetative cover so the Ozark plateau and hilly areas of the Northern Plains make perfect hideaways for the quiet animals. There are many caves and rocky outcrops for them to shelter in.

How Common Are Mountain Lions in Missouri?

Seeing mountain lions in Missouri isn’t like waiting for Bigfoot to appear. No, they’re much more common than that. In January and February of 2023 alone, there were nine sightings in Missouri. It’s double the number of sightings from the last few years. 

The most recent and heartbreaking of these episodes was from Franklin County where a mountain lion was hit by a car. Let’s hope it can rest in peace and find better climes in its next life. That’s the 112th confirmed mountain lion sighting in Missouri since 1994. Such a high number of sightings means that while mountain lions aren’t as common in Missouri as some of the western states, they aren’t unheard of either. They’re shy animals so there are probably more mountain lions around that we can see. 

Are Mountain Lions A Problem In Missouri?

Since the people of Missouri aren’t used to mountain lions, they may be scared of them. They don’t know anything about the big cat and its habits. But so far, there haven’t been any mountain lion attacks in Missouri. This isn’t likely to change even if a group of mountain lions do make a home in the state. More people are attacked by dogs every year and are killed in car accidents than by facing down mountain lion attacks.

Humans pose a bigger threat to mountain lions because of speeding cars on the highway. It’s caused the death of multiple mountain lions every year and it doesn’t look like this will change anytime soon.

Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.

How Big Are Mountain Lions in Missouri?

Mountain lions aren’t the biggest or topmost predator in the Americas but they can still get pretty big. We’re told that adult mountain lions can range from 2.0 m to 2.5m in length where females are typically smaller than males. 

Of this, a significant portion of their body length is their tail as mountain lions generally have very long tails to help them balance. As far as body weight is concerned, it can vary from 75 to 100 pounds for a female lion and 120 to 160 pounds for a male lion. Adult lions can stand at almost 90 cm tall at the shoulders, which we must admit is pretty impressive for only the fourth largest member of the cat family.

Can You Shoot a Mountain Lion in Missouri?

While mountain lions are protected wildlife in Missouri, you’re allowed to shoot them in the special circumstances of a mountain lion going after your livestock. Once you have killed a mountain lion, you’re required to report it once and give up the carcass and pelt. No one’s allowed to keep or sell any parts of the wild cats in Missouri.

What To Do If You See a Mountain Lion in Missouri?

It’s quite unlikely that you’ll run into a mountain lion while hiking around Missouri. But that’s a reasonable fear. Of course, it’s scary to think of encountering a wild animal in exactly that – the wild. But having a panic attack isn’t the solution to the problem. 

Just imagine having come across a mountain lion on an isolated track. It’s just as surprised to see you as you are to see it. Chances are that it wants to run away at once and making yourself seem big and threatening is the perfect way to ensure that it does exactly that. 

Hopefully, you’ll be with friends and they can help you make a lot of noise. If you’ve got children with you, make sure to pick them up. You don’t want the mountain lion to think of them as easy targets. If it does attack, don’t hesitate to fight back. Don’t worry, humans have fought off mountain lions and lived to tell the tale many times before.

Also, Read About Mountain Lions in Minnesota


And that was everything about the Mountain Lion in Missouri. I hope this article answers all your questions.

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