Mountain lion seen killing adult elk in Missouri, officials say. How common are they?

A mountain lion was spotted in Missouri, marking an infrequent sighting of the animal, officials say.

The Missouri Department of Conservation said Sept. 12 photos show a mountain lion killing an adult elk in Shannon County.

It’s the first mountain lion sighting this year in Shannon County, which is in southern Missouri about 160 miles southwest of St. Louis. There have been 13 confirmed mountain lion sightings this year in Missouri, officials say.

Mountain lions — also called cougars, pumas or panthers — are fairly uncommon in Missouri, according to the state’s department of conservation. They are more likely to be seen in Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas, though there have been increased sightings in neighboring states.

The return of mountain lions to Missouri is exciting to some, but frightening to others,” conservation officers said. “Because mountain lions have been absent from our state for so long, most Missourians have never seen them and don’t know much about their behavior.”

But there is a “slim chance” for a dangerous encounter with a mountain lion, officials said. Shy of people, the animals prey upon deer and medium-sized wild animals.

Since Missouri Department of Conservation officials began tracking mountain lion sightings in 1996, they have been most concentrated in and around the Mark Twain National Forest, which includes the Ozarks.

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