I grew up in Missouri where mountain lions were the stuff of legend.
Nearly every year someone would report a lion sighting, a story would appear in the local paper, a biologist from the state Department of Conservation would investigate and report that there was no evidence to support a mountain lion being within 1,000 miles of the place and what the person saw was probably a bobcat or a large dog; adding that the last confirmed mountain lion in Missouri was killed in the Bootheel region in 1927.
The person who reported the sighting would then claim that he or she knew a mountain lion when they saw one and they knew what they saw, etc., etc. A year or two later the story would be repeated. But with no lion and no evidence.
Then one day a friend told me told me this tale: He and his wife were traveling at night along a levee road in Mississippi County, Mo., when he saw a lion dash in front of the car. They stopped and he found a couple of tracks that he said were as “big as a damn saucer.”
“It wasn’t a bobcat,” he said. “It was a mountain lion.”
It was the same basic story I heard for years but one this time I was more inclined to believe because the guy who relayed it might actually recognize a mountain lion if he saw one. This was a man who was known to tell a few jokes but he knew his way around the woods and he wouldn’t joke about this. He reported his experience to the DOC. I don’t know what became of it.
Then a couple of days ago, this news: Missouri game officials recently confirmed a mountain lion sighting in Platte Co., Mo. which is in the northwest section of the state near the Missouri River.
In the past 15 years Missouri DOC officials have fielded more than 1,500 reported lion sighting. They’ve found evidence to support 11, including the one in Platte County.
Maybe the big cats are making a comeback.