The Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed as authentic a photograph of a mountain lion in Dekalb County.
The photo was taken on December 12 by a trail camera on private land in DeKalb County about 70 miles southeast of Maryville.
According to MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team, widely scattered mountain lion sightings have been confirmed in Missouri and likely will continue.
Some sightings or photographs of mountain lions may be of the same animal, but MDC cannot confirm individual animals without DNA evidence.
Evidence to date indicates these mountain lions are dispersing from other states to the west of Missouri. The most extreme evidence of this dispersal occurred in early 2011 when a mountain lion that was killed in Connecticut was genetically traced to South Dakota.
MDC has no confirmed evidence of a breeding population in Missouri.
The department stated that they receive many reports annually from people who believe they have seen a mountain lion, but with a lack of evidence, few are verified and confirmed. There have been 36 confirmed sightings since 1994 in the state according to the MDC's website.
Reports of sightings are encouraged, they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone with a report can also contact their local conservation agent or the Response Team at (573) 815-7901, ext. 3623.
MDC said that mountain lions are naturally shy of humans and generally pose little danger to people, even in other states that have thriving and growing populations.
The species is protected by law, but Missouri's Wildlife Code does allow people to protect themselves and their property if threatened.
Further information, tips and facts can be found at http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-reporting/mountain-lion-reports.