ST. LOUIS–MO–(KMOX)–The Missouri Department of Conservation says as far as it knows this hasn’t happened in the state for 150 years — a mountain lion has killed an elk.
The image of the big cat tip-toeing around a dead elk was captured by a motion-activated camera in the woods of Carter County, Missouri earlier this month.
Jeff Beringer with the department’s mountain lion response team was asked if hikers closer to St. Louis could expect to see a mountain lion in the woods.
“Well, anything’s possible. We had a cat show up, someone took a trail camera outside of Chesterfield (in January of 2011),” Beringer said, “Sometimes I think they follow the river corridors.”
Beringer says four photographs of a mountain lion were also taken in Warren County in this past December and January.
Evidence so far indicates young males are prowling through Missouri, looking for females, but there are no known females in the state.
“Females don’t disperse like males do,” Beringer said, “The nearest population to us is in northwest Nebraska.”
If you come upon a mountain lion, Beringer says don’t panic.
“They’re not generally a threat to people,” he said, “I mean we have never had a mountain lion attack or threaten a person in the state. And typically one person is killed by a mountain lion every nine years in north America.”
On the off chance you do encounter a mountain lion that acts aggressive, Beringer says don’t run.
“You want to be big, putt your hands up in the air,” Beringer said, “Make yourself look as big as you can, throw rocks at the animal or just scare them off. These predators are used to eating prey that runs from them.”
Beringer says the elk in the photograph with the mountain lion in Carter County had a “brain worm” and was not with a herd.