Updated: Sunday, Feb. 27 at 11:30 p.m.:
Mountain lions are on the prowl in Missouri and even in the St. Louis area, but the Missouri Department of Conservation says residents shouldn't be alarmed.
They will fight for territory, thus the young males we're seeing are getting pushed out," Missouri Department of Conservation TMs Tom Meese told Kansas City TMs Fox 4.Meese said mountain lions are moving eastward, right in the direction of Missouri."We do have habitat and food," Meese said. "We are missing the one important component and that's the females."
Missouri Department of Conservation TMs Rex Martensen said it's not rare to see a young male travel over 600 miles when they're looking for a mate.
"These large predators are hard wired to disperse into new areas and try to find that new territory. They TMre looking for an unoccupied territory and they're looking for females, Martensen said. I know South Dakota has done some telemetry studies on mountain lions in their state, and they had them go as far as 800 miles.
Martensen said mountain lions usually eat deer and smaller animals.
As the temperatures get warmer and the plants start blossoming more and more people will be out and about enjoying the nice weather.
But with the increase in mountain lion sightings many fear they might come in contact with one.
Martensen said if you do see one stay calm, cool and collected.
"The best thing to do is not run because it can trigger a response mechanism to chase you. The best thing to do is make yourself appear big, Martensen said. They don't like to fight with something, if they don't think they can win. Then be sure to back away slowly."
KSDK-TV reports that several people attended a meeting on mountain lions Thursday night in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood.
Conservation officials said they have been getting several calls from people saying they've seen mountain lions, or at least their tracks.
Most of the sightings turn out to be other animals, though at least one mountain lion has been spotted in St. Louis County.
There have been no reports of mountain lions attacking people in Missouri, and no evidence they have attacked pets.
In January two mountain lions were killed in Missouri.
One of the lions was killed by hunters who shot and killed the animal in the Missouri town of La Plata.
A group of hunters looking for coyotes Saturday instead came within 20 yards of the mountain lion, and shot and killed the animal.The Missouri Department of Conservation said it happened on land owned by an Amish man. State officials estimate the mountain lion weighed 130 pounds.
Also in January a hunter told conservation officials he shot and killed a mountain lion in Ray County.
The Camden County man shot the mountain lion on Jan. 2 after his dogs treed the mountain lion while he was hunting raccoons.
Conservation officials said the cat weighed 115 pounds.Mountain lions are a protected species that may be killed only if they attack or kill livestock or domestic animals or threaten human safety.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed another mountain lion sighting.
The department tells KRCG this latest sighting was in southern Linn County. The department says a landowner contacted the department earlier this week with two photos of a mountain lion taken Dec. 29 with a trail camera.Conservation Department officials said the photo was verified and the animal is a mountain lion.This is the fifth confirmed Missouri sighting of a mountain lion -- also known as a cougar, puma or panther -- since November.
Last month, two mountain lions were shot and killed in Missouri.The Linn County sighting is about 25 miles from where a mountain lion was shot and killed in Macon County in January. The latest sighting in Linn County makes it five confirmed reports of mountain lions in Missouri since November.
Conservation officials said these mountain lions appear to be young males searching for territory. Mountain lions are nocturnal, secretive and generally avoid contact with humans.Mountain lions populations in Texas, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska are growing and the young male animals are moving eastward.
Mountain lions are a protected species in the state under the Wildlife Code of Missouri. But, two recent mountain lion shootings in Macon and Ray counties didn't result in charges because the individuals involved said there was a threat to human safety.In late January, hunters shot and killed a mountain lion over the weekend in the Missouri town of La Plata.The group of hunters were looking for coyotes but instead came within 20 yards of the mountain lion, and shot and killed the animal.Earlier in January, a hunter told conservation officials he shot and killed a mountain lion in Ray County.