LACLEDE COUNTY, Mo. — A mountain lion was hit by a car along Interstate Highway 44 on Tuesday morning, and state troopers killed the animal after they found it suffering along the side of the road.
Springfield news outlet KSPR reported the story on Tuesday, saying the incident occurred near the Gasconade River bridge. According to Missouri Department of Conservation agents, the animal was a male, weighing at least 150 pounds.
A necropsy on the animal is being conducted, with conservation officials especially interested in the animal’s origins. Its DNA will be tested to that end, though the entire process will likely take several months, according to MDC agent Jim Braithwaite.
Conservation officials say they receive regular reports of mountain lion sightings, but they consider most of those unreliable, since they are often without any material evidence and large cats or other animals have been mistaken for mountain lions in the past. Occasionally a sighting is confirmed by officials—via footprints at the scene, photographs, etc.—but those are relatively few.
Locals at Lake of the Ozarks have even reported seeing a female cougar with her cubs. But the MDC notes it has not yet confirmed there is a breeding population of mountain lions in the state, saying the lions here are likely moving in from states to the west, looking for new hunting grounds. The DNA study on animal killed along Highway 44 is expected to provide a clearer picture of the local mountain lion population.