New Missouri Mt. Lion Photo

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 21st, 2011

This photo of a mountain lion was taken January 12, 2011, by a Chesterfield, Missouri resident. Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.

This is the the first confirmed sighting in St. Louis County, Missouri, since 1994, and the 13th in the state since the animal was declared extinct in Missouri.

Mountain lions were largely driven from the state by deforestation and hunting by the 1920s. The state hasn’t had a breeding population in decades. The closest groups of cougars live in Nebraska and South Dakota.

The camera that captured the images of the mountain lion was set up by Chesterfield [Missouri] resident Garrett Jensen, a hunter and outdoors enthusiast. Jensen installed the Reconyx HC600 camera on a tree to monitor wildlife in the woods behind his home near Olive Boulevard and White Road.

The camera, which is triggered by heat and movement, automatically snapped a series of photos about 2:30 a.m. on Jan 12 [2011]. Jensen was out of town at the time and discovered the images after he returned home and retrieved the memory card and combed through 2,000 shots.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God,’ I really couldn’t believe it had happened,” said Jensen, 36, the owner of a tree service company. “I feel really lucky. … I called everyone close to me and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, I caught a mountain lion on my camera.'”

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

11 Responses to “New Missouri Mt. Lion Photo”

  1. Apache responds:

    I love this statement “The closest groups of cougars live in Nebraska and South Dakota.”

    Somehow Illinois got left out of the equation. After seeing 4 cougar in Central Illinois it would seem feasible to me that Illinois has always had a resident cougar population.

    For an excellent read on Illinois and Mountain Lions check out The beast of the bluffs.

  2. Shelley responds:

    If you read the full St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, which appeared on the front page [!], there are further weasel words about checking the location of the 30+ cougars registered as captive animals in the state of Missouri. One would think if you had a captive cougar [and this number includes those in zoos throughout the state] they would not routinely be wondering around the wild bits near the Missouri River on private property. A more sophisticated version of “escaped from a travelling circus?”

    Given the large deer populations in MO and IL, there is no reason why there should not be some kind of large predator moving into the area. We hear stories that are not reported even to Cryptomundo or other cryptozoology sites, from hunters and farmers. I wish there were more of these cameras throughout the wilder parts of these states.

  3. oldpine responds:

    That is 13 sightings that have been confirmed by the state Conservation Commission. There have been more sightings reported that the commission has not confirmed and many more sightings that have not been reported due to the way the Commission treats the people who make reports, by ridiculing them and offten all but calling them liars. For years the commission did everything possible to deny the very possibility that mountain lions could be in the state in spite of such things as local cattlemen’s groups putting bounties on some cattle killing big cats in the state.
    The Commission has also gone to great lengths to discredit reports. In one case with which I am familiar, a property owner reported a dead mountain lion in his farm pond after it had appearently fell through ice covering the pond and drowning. The agent sent out to collect the cat went over the body very closely trying to find a bullet hole so that the land owner could be charged with killing a protected animal that the state clamed not to be there.

  4. atreadia responds:

    There is a thriving society of moutain lions or cougars in Missouri despite what the Wildlife Department publically states. Nearly every farmer in my county has had multiple incidents of mountain lion sightings. Despite that and the photograps that are brought to the fish and game wardens, the state continues to deny anything.

  5. Hoytshooter responds:

    I saw a photo of a very large mountain lion which had been killed near Steelville just within the last couple of years. Did some checking and found a number of people in the Steelville area who’d either seen the actual body or knew who’d shot it.

  6. atreadia responds:

    As an addendum to my reply, some hunters shot and killed a cougar at a farm outside of La Plata, Missouri today. The town of La Plata is not all that far from where I live. The Missouri Dept of Conservation is now stating that they have stray male mountain lions moving through the state, but deny there are any females in the area… and we all think they are hiding the truth out here.

  7. Fhqwhgads responds:

    This one always perplexes me. The whole United States was at one time clearly part of the cougar’s range. Even if at one point the cougar was locally eradicated — a questionable assertion — why should it be surprising if they migrate back into their former range? When coyotes are multiplying everywhere, there’s clearly a niche for a medium-to-large predator.

  8. JMonkey responds:

    The weekend before Christmas I saw one laying dead on the side of the road outside of Chickasha, Oklahoma on the I-44 Turnpike. I actually stopped and got out to look at it. I may have taken some pictures on my camera phone. I will check. I also know that they had one spotted in Southeastern Oklahoma not long ago. The Oklahoma Wildlife Department had to finally concede that there were cougars in Oklahoma.

  9. michaelcdunn responds:

    Actually, I think Midwestern mountain lions are sort of old news these days. The fact that the State confirms 13 says it all, since they were the last to admit it. The old boys back in the Ozark hills always said there were still “painters” back in there (panthers) they heard howling at night, from the 1920s (when they “died out” till now. I suspect Missouri was NEVER without a few, and it’s just that now the breeding population has reached a critical mass and the conservation folks can’t deny it anymore.

    Now that, having grown up in Missouri, I live in Virginia, I’m waiting for Virginia to admit the obvious.

  10. DWA responds:

    michaelcdunn: Virginia (and Maryland and DE) will be a long time admitting the obvious, I think. (I live in MD.)

    My brother saw what he is convinced were cougar tracks on Mt. Rogers, VA. A friend is conviced of a Dolly Sods, WV, sighting. Shenandoah NP visitors (and rangers) report them so often that the Park actually put out cams (so far nothing reported, which means nothing one way or the other). Tracks have been confirmed by state officials in Garrett County, MD (I believe that the “escapee” excuse was used there).

    There’s a lot of woods in Missouri, but a lot more in the East, which complicates the matter. Deer so saturate the region that they are available in all possible habitat. In other words, cats don’t have to skulk around fields and gardens. They can stay largely out of sight. But folks are seeing them, with the frequency one would expect.

    As Fhqwhgads says, this seems denial of what should be obvious: absent restrictions, animals recolonize former habitat. There is a superabundance of food and cover and a paucity of natural foes. I think that once the cougars that were easy to track and tree got killed off, hunting died down due to diminishing incremental returns. That was a century ago; and since then, nature has been doing what nature does.

  11. BB2 responds:

    I live to the west of the dot marked 2006 in NW MO. We have a thriving population of Mt. Lions. Ask anyone who farms or lives outside of town, most have seen them. But don’t ask the Conservation Dept., they refuse to admit it for some reason. My in-laws have seen a female and cubs walking down the gravel road they live on, so it is not wandering males looking for territory only.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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