Possible mountain lion sighting in Crawford County

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BOURBON, MO (KPLR)-Could a mountain lion be lurking in the woods of Crawford County, Missouri? Bourbon, MO police officer on routine patrol Sunday night was near the outskirts of town when he saw an unidentified animal some think could have been a mountain lion.

The sighting happened near the wooded area along Chestnut Street, so out of an abundance of caution, the officer contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation.

If it was a mountain lion, residents say it would not seem unusual to them. But the Department of Conservation says Missouri has had relatively few confirmed sightings.

Tom Meister with the Department of Conservation says, “We do have a lot more bobcats in Missouri than we used to have and people are not used to seeing them as well. And so sometimes those calls turn out just to be bobcats. We've gotten several calls believe it or not and pictures of house cats that people think it’s a mountain lion --- more than one.”

Bourbon resident Carol Krassinger says she has seen a mountain lion. She says, “They do roam. And a lot of times people will think they are coyotes verse being the mountain lions but there is a big difference.”

When the conservation department finds physical evidence of a suspected mountain lion, they place special motion sensor cameras in the area of the sighting. Then if the camera captures an image, investigators take life-size silhouettes of mountain lions, bobcats, and house cats to the spot where the picture was snapped and compare the cutouts to the size of the animal and the background in the photo.

Because there is no physical evidence in this case, it is not under investigation. The same is true for a reported sighting Saturday night in Franklin County.

In fact, the last time a mountain lion was caught on camera in this part of the state was in the Chesterfield bottoms five years ago.