ROVER, Mo.-- It's the sixth confirmed mountain lion sighting in Missouri since November, and this time, here in the Ozarks.
Driving down a hilly Oregon County highway on his way home from work March 9th, John Cotter knew exactly what he saw. "Absolutely! There's no mistaking a full-grown mountain lion crossing the road in front of you," Cotter says.
But there was no time to grab a camera. "I actually hesitated, because I thought, who's going to believe this?" Cotter says.
Luckily, the mountain lion left something behind. John was driving north on M Highway, and as he saw it cross the blacktop and hurdle a barbed wire fence, it got a little hung up. "It got it's back leg hung up and jerked free," Cotter says.
As it ran off into the brush, John called the Missouri Department of Conservation. "When I arrived, I found two tufts, about a cotton ball sized hair on the two top strands of barbed wire," says MDC Ozark Region District Supervisor Jerry Elliott.
Testing on that hair confirms it was indeed a mountain lion, the first sighting in the Ozarks since one in Shannon county in 2006. But in a recent string of confirmed sightings across Missouri, this is the sixth since November. "The evidence that we do have supports that we're finding these are young males trying to expand their territory, and their main diet is white tailed deer, which we have an abundance of," Elliott says.