PDF: Herald coverage in 1999 Texas County sighting

A mountain lion is examined Monday in Columbia.

Conservation officials say a mountain lion killed by a cattleman in Ray County was a young male that showed no sign of having been held in captivity.
Conservation Agent Tammy Pierson said Bob Littleton went to one of his pastures Sunday night after coon hounds treed a mountain lion where his cattle were grazing. He killed the mountain lion with a shot to the head from a .22-cal. rifle.
Littleton reported the incident as required by law. Pierson collected the mountain lion Monday morning and sent it to the Missouri Department of Conservation Resource Science Center in Columbia, where resource scientists examined by afternoon.
Conservation department furbearer biologist Jeff Beringer said the mountain lion weighed 115.2 pounds and measured a little more than 6.5 feet from nose to tip of tail. The sharp edges of the cat’s teeth and faint barring on the insides of its legs indicate it was a young male, probably three years or younger. Beringer said laboratory tests will provide more detailed information about the cat’s age and genetic makeup.
“We removed a small premolar tooth that will be sectioned so we can count the annual growth rings,” said Beringer. “That will tell us exactly how old it was. DNA testing will tell us whether it was related to native mountain lions in states to the west of Missouri, or if it is more closely related to mountain lions from somewhere else — possibly captive animals.”
Northwest Nebraska is the area nearest Missouri with an established mountain lion population.
Genetic testing also will determine whether the mountain lion killed in Ray County is the same one photographed by a landowner in Platte County in November.
Beringer said nothing in his examination of the Ray County mountain lion led him to believe it had been held in captivity. It had no tattoos or electronic identification tags — customary ways of marking captive cats. Its skin and paws showed no sign of having lived in a concrete-floored enclosure, and it still had its dewclaws, which often are surgically removed in captive animals to prevent injury.
The Ray County cat is Missouri’s 12th confirmed mountain lion sighting since 1994. (One of those was reported in late 1998 in Texas County. Read about that find in a link posted to this story at http://www.houstonherald).
Most of the mountain lions whose bodies have been recovered have been young males. They are the most mobile mountain lions, because they typically leave their birth areas to establish territories not already occupied by adult males. This is consistent with biologists’ theory that the cats are coming into Missouri from other states. Beringer said there is no evidence of reproduction for mountain lions in Missouri to date. This indicates that Missouri does not have a self-sustaining mountain lion population.
Because of evidence that Missouri no longer had an established population of mountain lions (Felis concolor), the Missouri Conservation Commission reclassified the species from “endangered” to “extirpated” in 2006. This means the species no longer exists as a self-sustaining population.
Also in 2006, the conservation commission adopted a policy that re-establishment of a sustainable mountain lion population in Missouri is not desirable, due to the potential for conflict with human activities.
Missouri’s Wildlife Code does protect mountain lions, but the wildlife code also allows the killing of any mountain lion that attacks or kills livestock or domestic animals or threatens human safety. People who kill mountain lions must report the incident to MDC immediately and turn over the intact carcass, including the pelt, within 24 hours.”
More information about reporting mountain lion sightings and how to deal with mountain lions is available at http://bit.ly/ciJDvb.

A mountain lion is viewed by officials Monday in Columbia.

A mountain lion's paws. The animal was killed Sunday night in Ray County.

With only three days until Christmas, State Treasurer Clint Zweifel is letting Missourians know there are still about 3.5 million gifts worth more than $600 million waiting for those last-minute shoppers.

Included on Treasurer Zweifel’s Unclaimed Property list are 52 named Santa, 66 named Donner, 40 named Dancer, 10 named Comet, 1 named Vixen and 31 named Stocking.

“During this holiday season some gifts are made of money instead of costing money. In fact, some just require a simple search at ShowMeMoney.com and a little paper work,” Treasurer Zweifel said. “There is no better time than now to go online and see if you, your family and your friends are one in 10 Missourians who has some unclaimed property. In these tough economic times, it is more important than ever Missourians have their money returned to them.”

So far during fiscal year 2010, the average Unclaimed Property claim has been about $360, with more than 43,000 accounts receiving more than $15 million. Zweifel said he was on pace to increase accounts and assets returned by more than 10 percent over fiscal year 2009.

“Efficiencies, technology and increased marketing efforts are helping us grow returns to Missourians,” Zweifel said. “Before this holiday season winds down, everyone should be visiting ShowMeMoney.com. Accounts are added almost daily, and whether it is $10 or $10,000, the extra dollars can always come in handy.”

Treasurer Zweifel’s Unclaimed Property database can be found at ShowMeMoney.com.