If You Encounter a Mountain Lion

  • When you go afield in Missouri, keep in mind that your chance of having a dangerous encounter with a mountain lion is very small — almost nonexistent.
  • You, your pets, or your livestock are at much greater risk from automobiles, stray dogs, and lightning strikes than from mountain lions.
  • If you DO directly encounter a mountain lion in Missouri, responding appropriately may improve your chances of survival.
  • Before going afield, study the table below to learn the differences between threatening and nonthreatening behavior and appropriate responses to each.
  • If you see a mountain lion in Missouri, please report it.
Mountain lion behavior and suggested human response
Behavior/Activity Meaning Human Risk Appropriate Human Response
More than 100 yards away and moving away Avoidance Negligible Keep children where they can be observed.
100–50 yards away; various positions and movements; attention away from people Indifference Negligible Remain calm; do not approach. Avoid rapid movements or running. Make your presence known then slowly back away / leave the area.
In a tree (including treed by dogs) Avoidance Minor/None Leash dogs; move away from tree until out of sight and allow animal to escape.
100–50 yards away; various or changing positions; ears up; attention toward people and/or following people Curiosity Slight for Adults; Serious for Unaccompanied Children Hold small children; keep older children close. Assume standing position; do not turn your back. Look for sticks, rocks, or other weapons and pick them up using an aggressive posture; do your best to appear large and threatening.
50–25 yards away; intense staring and hiding coupled with crouching and/or creeping toward people Considering/Positioning for Attack Serious Move slowly to get behind trees or boulders, but don't lose sight of the animal. Make menacing sounds; throw things if animal is close enough to hit.
25 yards or closer; tail twitching; body and head low to ground; rear legs may be gently pumping or treading up and down Pre‐Attack/Attack Imminent Extreme Prepare to defend yourself using whatever weapons are available (including lethal). Pepper spray may be effective if animal is close and downwind. If animal attacks, fight back!

Mountain Lions in Missouri

Learn why mountain lions are roaming into Missouri, how we confirm sightings, and what to do in the unlikely event you encounter one.