Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Big cat sightings in Missouri not unusual

KTVO - Kirksville,MO,USA

(MILAN, Mo.) Reports of mountain lion sightings in the Heartland are not unusual. The Missouri Department of Conservation has fielded about 1,000 reports since the mid-'90s. So animal experts held a informational meeting in Milan Monday night to talk to residents about what they think they're seeing.

Conservation agents assured the crowd of about 100 that there is not a breeding mountain lion population in Missouri. In fact, the last time mountain lions bred in Missouri or Iowa was the late 1920s.

Even though there have been eight confirmed mountain lion sightings in Missouri since 1994, experts say there isn't a large number of the animals in the Show-Me State. However there are other big cats in the region.

"What we do have are individual animals dispersing into Missouri from [states like] South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming, and we have a large and growing bobcat population that a lot of people are seeing for the very first time," said conservation agent, Dave Hamilton

If you think you spot a mountain lion, conservation agents urge you to take photos or video of the animal and look for hard evidence like footprints or droppings, then call the conservation agent or office nearest you. The department has a Mountain Lion Task Force that investigates most reported sightings.

--Dana Jay, Reporting

No comments: