Yesterday, Missouri game wardens released a mountain lion that was accidentally trapped on public land in the Ozarks.
You can read the news release from Missouri’s Department of Conservation to get the state’s take on the incident and its outcome.
Was it the right decision to release the 122-pound male lion? Should it instead have been euthanized, or relocated far from the area where it was trapped?
For my part, I think the state made the right call. Lions belong on the landscape, and this cat showed no signs of injury or ill health or that it escaped from confinement. But I’ll also throw out this detail: Missouri’s Department of Conservation confirmed 14 mountain lion sightings in the Show-Me State last year. That’s more than all previous confirmed cougar sightings combined.
And every time the department even touches a lion, it confirms just a little bit more to a sizeable block of skeptical Missourians that the state is behind all mountain lion distribution. As sound as it is from a wildlife management perspective, I’m not sure the public-relations risk of releasing a wild-caught cat is smart business.
What do you think? I’m especially interested in hearing from Missourians. Are you ready to live with a resident population of cougars?