Meandering Missouri Mountain Lion Last Seen in Michigan

mountain lion travels.jpg
Click here to view an interactive map of the mountain lion's travels.
First things first. The word Missouri in the headline above probably should be in quotes. Why? Because the cougar photographed in north-central Missouri's Linn County in December 2010 is probably not originally from the Show-Me State. 

How do we know this? Because conservationists tracking antelope along the South Dakota and Nebraska border caught a very similar cougar in April 2010 and tagged its ear and put a radio collar around its neck.

Jeff Beringer, a furbearer biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, tells Daily RFT that the combo of the collar and the tag makes the cat unusual. "Most cougars -- when caught -- are collared with a GPS device that can track their range far past the limited scope of a radio collar," notes Beringer. "And this radio collar, in particular, has a big external antenna that's easy to identify."

So assuming that the cat collared and tagged in South Dakota in April 2010 is the same photographed by a trail camera in Linn County in December 2010 (as Beringer and his colleagues at the Conservation Department believe is likely) the cat would have traveled at least 500 miles to arrive here.

That's not all that strange. Biologists believe that all of the 28 confirmed mountain lions sightings in Missouri since 1994 are cougars -- most, if not all, males -- that have wandered here from the Dakotas looking for a mate.

But what is somewhat mind-boggling is that the Linn County cat may have just been starting its road trip.

Seven months later -- in July of last year -- trail cameras in northern Wisconsin photographed a cat with the same descriptions (a radio collar and an ear tag). Wildlife workers in the Upper Peninsula confirmed sightings of an identical cougar in September. Beringer, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, thinks it's probable -- though not guaranteed -- that the Wisconsin and Michigan cougar is the same one that was photographed in Missouri.

The animal's whereabouts are currently unknown.

As the crow flies, the cougar would have traveled over 1,100 miles from South Dakota to Missouri and up to Wisconsin and Michigan. And that's assuming it went in a straight line, which is highly unlikely.

"We know that these dispersal males can travel quite a range in search of a mate, but until you actually map it, it's hard to believe how far they'll travel," says Beringer.

Still, "Missouri's" meandering cougar isn't the most well-traveled kitty Beringer has ever heard of. Last summer a 140-pound mountain lion was struck by a car and killed in Connecticut. Biologists believe the animal roamed 2,000 miles from the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Beringer is the author of the article Living with Large Carnivores in this month's edition of the Missouri Conservationist.
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14 comments
hindsight
hindsight

Driving north on Highway 40 about 8:30 CDT last night, a few miles north of Highway 8, in Rusk County, Wisconsin.  On the right side of the road I saw what I thought at first was a small deer, but when it ran across the road I could tell by the way it moved it was no deer.  Also no dog or coyote or wolf.  It moved like a cat, with front paws splayed like a BIG cat!  Head was also shaped like a cat, snout pushed in, not the long snout of a dog, coyote or wolf.  Light colored body.  Never seen anything like it in the wild before.

Tetris4me
Tetris4me

we have all kinds of people in this state who have owned cougars . I personally knew 1 who did in town untill they made him move or get rid of it. he moved. an who knows what some do if they get loose. just like anybody who ever owned a dog knows it can an will happen. do you think some might NOT notify the police or tell ANYONE that their PET got away. we even had a big  gator in someones basement here down the street from us that just moved an left it. i found out from reading the  local paper. . some people have no buisness having certain  animals; hell as a kid i had snake small king in a jar went missing never told my mother, don't know to this day if she got rid of it , never asked. .

Tetris4me
Tetris4me

last summer near stockton lake , we were camping. i was sleeping in the tent when i heard a sound that made the hairs on my neck stand up. i slept in the truck after that and it was not a dog ;cyoate creech owl or wolf, when i talked with  a woman next day at the dollar store , she told me she had seen a cougar near her back porch that night . her property was  just over the bridge from where we were. not a doubt in my mind what that sound near my tent had been. talking with her confirmed what i heard.  

Keith Nations
Keith Nations

In the spring of 1999 I was driving to work in the lead mines along Hwy J about one mile east of the town of Oats in Reynolds county Missouri it was around 1:00 pm bright sun light. I came into a sraight streach of road, where I had hit and killed a deer just a week before. I saw a very large cat in the road,when I got close enough to see it clearly there was no dout as to what it was it was an adult mountan lion. It junped from the road into the ditch just short of a fence it was over the wire into tall grass and gone just that fast..

Kledawn17
Kledawn17

My family had a mountain lion on our property back in 2005 in southern Missouri(Butler County) that I tried to take pictures of but it was on the other side of our lake. I didn't want to lose track of it while he was walking along the edge of our frozen lake, (s)he slipped and fell so I could see the white underbelly and long tail as (s)he was hopping over logs. I have some pictures but it's from a distance and it's enough to tell what it is.

Connie Merrill Schachel
Connie Merrill Schachel

The "track" on the map is highly unlikely. Would make more sense for the cat to follow the Mississippi north than to traverse hundreds of acres of Iowa corn and soy bean fields. 

Steven
Steven

I think its high time the MDC stops trying to tell us that these cougars are just 'wandering' in from the Dakotas. Why can't they just admit that we have cougars in this state?

Jim
Jim

Jeff Beringer from MDC really has no place to talk here, even when a private citizen captures a cougar for MDC they didn't bother to tag it.  Just more MDC taking credit for something they didn't do.

Fuck-suburbs
Fuck-suburbs

Well I for one am glad that it escaped any encounters with the shoot first then ask questions and then shoot about 25 rounds at any animal inbred sticksville fuckheads in this state and managed to continue on in its journeys. Most of the time when you read of a mountain lion sighting in this state it involves some rural chicken fucker who claims his mulleted dumb ass felt threatened. "LOOK OUT NED!! IT'S COMIN RIGHT FER US!!!"

biking_2003
biking_2003

@Connie Merrill Schachel  I don't think it was meant to be an exact "track". They just connected the dots between confirmed sightings.

Xmasman
Xmasman

Where is your biology degree from? A sea of 10 ft tall corn is a perfect pathway for wildlife. All the cougar needs to find is a few stray dogs, cats or raccoons and it is set for the journey

Fuck-suburbs
Fuck-suburbs

Because the people who do this for a living know what the fuck they are talking about unlike the backwoods banjo twanging gun toting sticksville fools that want to shoot any animal they see.

Steven
Steven

shut the fuck up you goddamn yuppie fuck.

Fuck-suburbs
Fuck-suburbs

Sounds like a trigger happy dirty sister fucking backwoods cracker hillbilly is weighing in! Go cook a batch of meth and then fuck a chicken you paranoid rural fuckstick.

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