Though mountain lions once roamed the hills and forests of Missouri, persecution at the hands of humans drove them locally extinct. If we support open space conservation and preserve corridors connecting potential habitat, we could reverse this situation and bring mountain lions back home to Missouri.
Although mountain lions may be physically capable of living in an area, human activities and attitudes could keep them from reestablishing a population there.
Fragmentation, sport hunting practices, and intolerant communities can wipe out mountain lions from any area.
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Before European settlement, mountain lions roamed throughout Missouri and beyond. Perceived conflict with livestock, heavy hunting pressure, conversion of wildlands to agriculture and other forms of habitat loss drove Missouri's mountain lions locally extinct by 1930.
Since the late 1990s, there has been evidence trickling in that mountain lions could potentially recolonize the state given adequate protections.
There haven't been any studies specifically addressing potential habitat for mountain lions in Missouri, but there has been work looking at how important the Ozarks could be as a potential dispersal corridor. A study by LaRue et al. (2007) estimates that Missouri has 28,928 square kilometers of habitat for mountain lions to re-establish a population within the state. In addition, a population in Missouri would help provide potential dispersing individuals to help repopulate eastern states. This same study estimates that there are 128,608 square kilometers of highly suitable habitat across the Midwest.
Establishing mountain lion-friendly legilsation and management practices will likely need to play a role in allowing this top carnivore to return to the great state of Missouri. Check out our Action Tab to see what you can do to help!