The Status of the Puma (Puma Concolor) in Missouri, Based on Sightings

Date of Graduation

Fall 1996


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Lynn Robbins


Since 1927, the puma (Puma concolor) has been classified as extirpated from the state of Missouri. However, sightings of puma have continuously been reported thorughout the state. Questionnaires, addressing the circumstances of the sighting incident and personal attributes of the individual, were sent in response to 509 reported puma sightings. A total of 247 (48.5%) questionnaires were returned with reports of pumas sighted between 1949 and August 1996. The number of reports showed an increase over the last 10 years. The mean age of individuals surveyed was 50, and 52.8% of them had no knowledge of the possible existence of puma in Missouri prior to their sighting. A total of 82% of sightings took place under conditions of 0% ground cover and 63% were 50m or less from the animals. In addition, 79% classified themselves as participating in hunting and fishing. There was no significant correlation between the number of sightings and deer or human densities, or locations of class II wildlife permit holders. Turkey per square mile of forest were inversely correlated with sightings, presumably because puma and turkey have different habitat requirements. The number of sightings and square miles of forest per county showed a significant positive correlation. Other evidence of the existence of pumas in Missouri include a kill in Carter County, Missouri in 1994, and a video tape recording taken in Reynolds County, Missouri in 1996. With the increase in populations of puma in Texas and expansion eastward, it is possible that if there are not breeding pumas present in Missouri at this time, a population of puma could be established in the near future.

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© Stephen E Hardin