Missouri law calls the mountain lion a “protected species” and says that a mountain lion can only be killed if it is attacking or killing domestic livestock or domestic animals or threatening human safety. Recent mountain lion kills in the state are illustrating that Missouri Department of Conservation’s enforcement of the law is so slack that if a hunter is simply afraid, that is all that’s needed to satisfy the department that a lion kill was justified. This is wildlife management at its worst that is, unfortunately, all too common. If the highest bar the agency is going to live up to is whether an uneducated hunter becomes terrified of a mountain lion on sight, then you might as well pack up the MDC and send everyone home and save the state’s budget.
The typical mountain lion sighting appears to be what anyone who knows anything about the cats would expect, i.e., sightings of young males who have struck out on their own and looking for a home territory to settle in. Unfortunately for them, even if they are just passing through, once humans see it, they are likely to kill it “just because”. Most killings don’t happen because mountain lions have actually attacked but happen simply because people get afraid. Most folks know nothing about them except what they’ve seen in the movies where mountain lion attacks, as rare as they are, seem commonplace and fatal. Neither of those facts are true; attacks are rare and usually not fatal. The ones that are hit the news and make it seem, as news coverage often does, that they are the norm.
On January 2, a 29 year old man shot a mountain lion and then had a 60 year old man lie about it and tell the Missouri Department of Conservation he did it. I have to wonder why. Apparently, the MDC never thought to look into that. They instead accepted his story that he was “in fear for his life” and decided not to press charges against anyone involved. You can betty that the fact he lied about it in the case of a human homicide would have raised suspicion, but the fact that it didn’t with the MDC doesn’t surprise me any. God forbid that any state wildlife agency question the motivations of any hunter, despite it may be what the taxpayers are paying them to do.
I’ve also been told that another kill of a 130 pound male has occurred near La Plata, Missouri, and that this kill occurred during an Amish coyote hunt. I don’t know any details more than that. I bet neither does MDC. You gottta hope they’ve been down there asking questions. But my money says they haven’t’. After all, all someone had to do to justify the killing was be afraid. How hard is that?