A necropsy of the mountain lion killed the night of Aug. 11 by a motorist in Callaway County indicates the animal migrated to Central Missouri from the west. That is the preliminary finding of a team of Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife biologists who examined the cat Aug. 13.
"Our examination found nothing that indicates the mountain lion had been in captivity," said Conservation Department Wildlife Research Biologist Dave Hamilton. "It had no tags, tattoos or wear on its claws and pads that is typical of animals that have been kept in concrete-floored enclosures. Its stomach contained a single gray squirrel, which probably means it was feeding in the wild rather than being fed by humans."
Other findings of the necropsy are as follows:
* The animal likely was 1 1/2 to 2-years-old based on the presences of dark barring on the fur, which normally disappears by age 3.
* The overall health of the animal was good. Its death probably was instantaneous, as the impact with the automobile separated the cat's neck vertebrae and broke both its front legs.
* The pad of the cat's left forepaw was missing in addition to the missing toes from that paw. It is possible that the injury was sustained in a fight with a larger mountain lion or perhaps a bear several months ago, perhaps even a year ago.
Tissue samples taken from the mountain lion have been sent to a lab for DNA testing. Animal hairs contained in the cat's lower intestine also are being sent to a lab for identification. It will be several weeks to several months before the Conservation Department receives the lab results.
Hamilton said as mountain lion populations continue to grow in western states cougar sightings may increase in Missouri and other Midwestern states.