Conservation Connection: Mountain Lions & Coyotes

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(KPLR) - An alleged mountain lion photo taken in Washington County.  A coyote attacking dogs in Hazelwood.  It’s enough to make one think wild animals are stalking us all over the place.  But what’s the truth behind it all?  Wildlife Damage Biologist Tom Meister is here to give some of the facts.

Q.  First, what’s with this mountain lion photograph supposedly taken in Washington County?

  • Picture recently surfaced on the internet, said to be taken in Washington County
  • Actually a well-known hoax photo, originated in Texas
  • These kinds of photos surface on a regular basis
    • Some Photoshopped
    • Some taken elsewhere

Q. So what’s the real story on mountain lions in Missouri?

  • Most recent confirmed sighting last month in Taney, Reynolds and Shannon Counties
    • Captured on game cameras
    • Widely scattered mountain-lion sightings have been confirmed and likely will continue
    • Some sightings or photographs of mountain lions may be of the same animal
    • Cannot confirm individual animals without DNA evidence
    • Evidence to date indicates these mountain lions are dispersing from other states to the west of Missouri
    • Typically reclusive and avoid humans
    • MDC has no confirmed evidence of a breeding population in Missouri

Q.  What about the reported attack of a dog by coyotes last weekend in Hazelwood?

  • MDC has not confirmed attack was by coyotes
  • MDC offering guidance to City of Hazelwood regarding dealing with nuisance coyotes
  • Coyotes are common in wooded areas bordering suburbs and adapt well to human development
  • Though not their typical prey, small dogs and cats are possible targets
  • Mostly eat rodents and rabbits, keeping these animals in check
  • Take sensible precautions with pets and small children outdoors
    • Keep a close eye, especially at dusk, dawn or night
    • Don’t leave out pet food or garbage that might tempt coyotes
    • Use scare tactics to make coyotes feel unwelcome and instill fear of humans
    • Fence yards

Q. Are coyotes a threat to humans?

  • Not typically—no confirmed attacks in Missouri

Q. Where can viewers find out more about these animals?