It is true that mountain lion sightings are up in Missouri over the past few years. Many believe they've seen these big cats and/or found their tracks, but how do you know when a mountain lion is really nearby? The state of Missouri has shared some tips.

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It's easy to mistake tracks from a large dog for a mountain lion. There are similarities, but the Missouri Department of Conservation has pointed out the differences to look for. One of their agents used a sedated mountain lion that was mistakenly trapped a few years ago to capture photos so you can see what the paw and tracks really look like.

MOnatureVids via YouTube
MOnatureVids via YouTube
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They note on their official Mountain Lion Signs website the following difference between a mountain lion and dog tracks:

Three lobes at the bottom of the pad. Dogs and coyotes have one indent at the bottom of their pads.

What about the difference between a mountain lion and a bobcat?

A real mountain lion track will be around 3 to 3 1/2 inches wide while a bobcat track is only about 2 inches. If you see claw marks, that's also likely not a mountain lion as they're common for dogs, but not the big cats.

If you're walking in the woods in Missouri and see slender claw marks like this, you're dealing with a mountain lion as they're much thinner than the mark left by a bear.

MOnatureVids via YouTube
MOnatureVids via YouTube
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These are the feet of a real mountain lion that was sedated. Wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of these claws of fury.

MOnatureVids via YouTube
MOnatureVids via YouTube
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If you see the carcass of an animal that seems to be covered by grass or dirt, get out of that area as quickly as possible. Mountain lions commonly cover up their prey after they've fed awhile with plans to return at a later time. You wouldn't want to be present when that happens.

Make sure to check out the Missouri Department of Conservation page to see where the latest mountain lion sightings are happening in Missouri. These big predators are more common than you might think.

A Look At This Scary Idaho Mountain Lion Encounter

This video is absolutely terrifying-- here is a closer look and you can watch the full video for yourself, BELOW:

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