Cougar killed in crash likely came from west, preliminary study

Saturday, August 16, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A mountain lion killed in a mid-Missouri vehicle crash likely came from the west, according to a preliminary finding of a team of state Conservation Department biologists.

"Our examination found nothing that indicates the mountain lion had been in captivity," said Conservation Department biologist Dave Hamilton. "It had no tags, tattoos or wear on its claws and pads that is typical of animals that have been kept in concrete-floored enclosures.

"Its stomach contained a single gray squirrel, which probably means it was feeding in the wild rather than being fed by humans," Hamilton said.

The mountain lion was killed late Monday night on U.S. 54 near Fulton, Mo.

Mountain lions, once indigenous to Missouri, were killed off by settlers in the 1800s and early 1900s. From 1927 to 1994, there were no confirmed mountain lion sightings in the state.

But in the past nine years, the Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed eight sightings of at least seven different mountain lions, including the one killed Monday night.

The pad of the cat's left forepaw and several of its claws were missing. It is possible that the injury was sustained in a fight with a larger mountain lion or a bear several months ago, or perhaps even a year ago, the Conservation Department said.

Tissue samples taken from the mountain lion have been sent to a lab for DNA testing. Animal hairs contained in the cat's lower intestine also are being sent to a lab for identification. It could be several weeks to a few months before the Conservation Department receives the results.

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