Tuesday, December 12, 2006 1:24 PM CST
Chillicothean Joe Neis's Stealth Game Camera photo of a mountain lion snapped last Thursday in Livingston County has been confirmed by MDC's Mountain Lion Response Team as "for real". This is the first confirmed sighting of a wild mountain lion in north central Missouri, and is the first one confirmed anywhere in the state since a road killed lion in Callaway County in 2003.
Veteran outdoorsman Neis, like many area deer hunters, uses "trail cams" as a means of determining big bucks' whereabouts so he can place his deer stands in good locations. He checks them frequently and if they have been "tripped" he takes them home to see what he's captured. Imagine his surprise last Saturday morning when one of his cameras had an "up close and personal" picture of a mountain lion, not exactly what Joe was expecting.
There have been many reported possible sightings of lions in this area, but until now there was never enough evidence for MDC's team to conclusively say, "That's a mountain lion for sure." After reviewing Joe's photo and visiting the site where the picture was taken, there was no hesitation by MDC team members Furbearer Biologist David Hamilton and Field Program Supervisor Rex Martensen, and MDC Technician Shauna Marquardt (otter research biologist accompanying the team since she was already working in this area) in calling this sighting "confirmed".
According to Hamilton, who heads up the Mountain Lion Response Team, they receive many alleged sightings, but almost none are accompanied by real evidence or a photo that clearly shows a lion. Most sightings turn out to be housecats, bobcats, dogs, raccoons or some other animal and most photos are unclear or obviously are not pictures of a mountain lion. In the hundreds of lion sightings they've received in the last 15 years, only eight have been confirmed prior to this one. Despite the hundreds of "trail cams" used by Missouri's more than half million deer hunters and other wildlife buffs, this is only the second confirmed mountain lion "trail cam" photo (the other was near Ft. Leonard Wood) they've had shown to them. . . .