Wednesday, January 26, 2011
MOUNTAIN LIONS IN MISSOURI!
Mountain lions are big, scary cats, kind of like tigers, except without the stripes. They eat deer and elk and sheep and cows and basenjis and even greyhounds. So that is why I was alarmed to learn that two mountain lions have been seen right here in Missouri during January. And by "seen," I mean "shot and killed," so there is no question about whether they were really mountain lions. Also, besides the two that were shot, another one was photographed this month near St. Louis by using one of those special cameras that goes off if something walks past it. And another mountain lion was photographed in the same way last November in the county where the Kansas City airport is.
There are several other names for this big cat, like cougar, puma, panther, and catamount. It is not a social animal, and it mostly hangs out by itself except when the season comes for making kittens. Mountain lions have really big territories, and they are always moving around. That's why you can find them all the way from Alaska to the south end of South America. But you don't usually find them in Missouri.
Then this past Saturday, in northeast Missouri, some farmers who were hunting for coyotes were shocked when a mountain lion suddenly came out from under a cedar tree. So they shot it. This mountain lion weighed 128 pounds and measured more than 6 feet from head to tail.
The people at the Missouri Department of Conservation say that there are no mountain lions breeding in the state, and there are no plans to bring any here to start a new population of mountain lions. The reason they don't want to do this is because they decided there would be too much danger to people and livestock here if we had a whole bunch of mountain lions. So the ones that come to Missouri are probably just passing through. It's kind of sad when they get shot, though. I think it would be better just to give them a nice bus ticket so they could go back out west someplace to live.