Large mountain lion hit by motorist on I44 in Laclede County
State troopers had to euthanize a large mountain lion Tuesday morning after it had been injured by a vehicle on I-44 in Laclede County.
It's the first recorded mountain lion hit by a vehicle in southwest Missouri, according to Missouri Department of Conservation Agent Jarad Milligan, who recovered the cat and took it to Columbia for a necropsy.
"This was a big adult male and very healthy," Milligan said. "We measured it from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail and it was 6 feet 8 inches long and I'm guessing it weighed 120 to 130 pounds."
Milligan said a motorist reported possibly hitting a mountain lion on I-44 at 4:15 a.m., but troopers sent to the scene couldn't find it.
Another report came in at 6:15 a.m. of an injured mountain lion on the side of the road.
"That's when troopers called me saying they were out with it and it was still alive but they were going to have to put it down. It suffered a pretty severe injury to its back quarters."
The mountain lion was found at mile marker 144.3 along the eastbound lane of I-44, just past the bridge over the Gasconade River. Milligan said it's the third or fourth mountain lion known to have been killed by a vehicle in Missouri in the past decade.
Milligan said a game camera captured an image of a mountain lion 10 to 12 years ago near Richland, but there had been no recent sightings in that area.
DNA samples will be taken to determine where it likely came from, and the rings in one of its teeth will tell how old it was. Milligan said most mountain lions that have been found in Missouri are young males coming from South Dakota, following riverways into the state.
What will happen with this mountain lion?
"It's a very big cat," Milligan said. "Maybe we'll be able to use it in an educational role down the way, but whether it will be mounted or its skin tanned, that's for someone else to decide."