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.


Closeup of mountain lion face
Confirming Mountain Lion Sightings


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


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 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.


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


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


Silhouettes of housecat, bobcat and mountain lion
Cat Silhouettes


Housecat silhouette
House Cat Silhouette


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


Bobcat silhouette measures 17 inches at the shoulder
Bobcat Silhouette


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


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


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