Confirming Mountain Lion Evidence

Each year the Department's Mountain Lion Response Team investigates hundreds of mountain-lion sighting reports. Because cougars are reclusive animals, it's hard to know exactly when and where they may be present. Although a reported sighting can be very compelling, we must gather hard evidence before we can confirm the mountain lion sighting.

Even physical evidence such as tracks and photos can be misleading. Dog tracks and dogs themselves are the number one and number two cases of misidentification. Watch the video below to determine the difference between dog and mountain lion tracks. Bobcats, house cats, coyotes, foxes, and deer have also been mistaken for mountain lions.

So how does the Mountain Lion Response Team determine whether physical evidence is from a mountain lion or some other kind of animal? The following slideshow shows you how.

Mountain Lion Track Identification

This video shows how to identify a mountain lion track.

mtnlioncover_06-23-2011.jpg

Closeup of mountain lion face
Confirming Mountain Lion Sightings

cougar_tracks_closeup_05-13-111.jpg

Closeup photo of cougar tracks in mud and measuring tape to show scale
Macon County Cougar Track

mountain_lion_platte_county_11-30-10.jpg

mountain lion in tree
Mountain Lion Platte County
In November 2011, a Platte County landowner took this unmistakable photo of a mountain lion perched in tree.

mountain_lion_chesterfield_1-20-11.jpg

mountain lion in Chesterfield
Mountain Lion in Chesterfield
This trailcam image was taken in the Chesterfield area on Jan. 12. It is the 13th confirmed mountain-lion report in Missouri.

linn_county__mountain_lion_2_2-15-11.jpg

Mountain lion walking away from camara in snowy Linn County
Linn County Mountain Lion

mtnlionhair_08-24-11.jpg

Mountain lion fur snagged on a barbed-wire fence
Mountain Lion Hair Sample

catsilhouettes_08-11.jpg

Silhouettes of housecat, bobcat and mountain lion
Cat Silhouettes

housecat_cutout_05-27-10.jpg

Housecat silhouette
House Cat Silhouette

housecat_cutout_compare_05-27-10.jpg

silhouette of a house cat in an opening through trees
House Cat Silhouette Seen in an Opening

bobcat_cutout_05-27-10.jpg

Bobcat silhouette measures 17 inches at the shoulder
Bobcat Silhouette

bobcat_cutout_compare_05-27-10.jpg

Bobcat silhouette placed in an opening in trees
Bobcat Silhouette Placed in an Opening

mountain_cutout_05-27-10.jpg

Mountain silhouette measures 27 1/2 inches at the shoulder
Mountain Lion Silhouette

mountain_lion_cutout_compare_05-27-10.jpg

mountain lion silhouette placed in opening in trees
Mountain Lion Silhouette Placed in Opening