We're not far into 2024 yet and already the year has gotten stranger. This is just one example. After a rash of almost constant mountain lion sightings in Missouri in 2023, these big cats have seemingly just disappeared. Why the sudden scarcity of sightings?

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If you recall, there were dozens of confirmed mountain lion sightings in Missouri between January and September of 2023. This is just a small snapshot shared by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Infographic, Missouri Department of Conservation
Infographic, Missouri Department of Conservation
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Look also at this map of Missouri canvased with confirmed big cat sightings.

Infographic, Missouri Department of Conservation
Infographic, Missouri Department of Conservation
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There has not been a confirmed mountain lion sighting in Missouri since September of 2023. Where have all the big cats gone?

I can think of a few possibilities, but few make much sense. #1 - The Missouri Department of Conservation has stopped posting the sightings. #2 - Other predators have moved into their territory and taken over. #3 - Mountain lions have become better at hiding. I don't believe #1 is likely as the state of Missouri does a great job of keeping their reports current and accurate. #2 would seem to me to be the most believable as Missouri has confirmed that the black bear population is expanding northward.

As A-Z Animals mentions, black bears have distinct advantages over mountain lions due to their size and large frame. Mountain lions are also reclusive animals. While wolves and bears will contest food sources, mountain lions are more likely to seek prey elsewhere if threatened.

There's no conclusive answer, just the question of why there has been more than 4 months of silence about mountain lions in Missouri.

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Gallery Credit: Canva

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