Hunter admits shooting mountain lion in Ray County

RICHMOND, Mo.–A Ray County man has admitted that he, not a cattleman, shot a mountain lion on Jan. 2. Conservation officials say the admission brings their investigation to a close, and there will be no charges, because the shooter feared for his life.

James “Jimmy” McElwee, 29, of Camden, admitted he shot the 115-pound mountain lion while hunting raccoons in rural Ray County. His confession followed the admission by Bob Littleton, 60, of Richmond, that his initial claim of shooting the mountain lion was false.

“Mr. Littleton only said he shot the mountain lion to protect Mr. McElwee,” said Larry Yamnitz, Protection Division chief with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). “Based on the outcome of our agent’s investigation, no charges will be filed in this case.”

According to Yamnitz, McElwee admitted to the shooting, saying he feared for his life.

“He followed his dogs up a draw and shined a light up into a tree and saw eyes that were too far apart for a raccoon,” said Yamnitz. “When he realized it was a mountain lion, he was afraid to run, thinking it might attack him.”

After killing the cat, McElwee and his hunting partner and father-in-law, Larry Danner, 52, of Richmond, contacted Littleton, who offered to take responsibility for shooting the mountain lion.

Yamnitz said everyone would have been better off if all parties involved had told the truth from the beginning.

“The true circumstances of the incident were more clearly within the provisions of the Wildlife Code than the story they made up,” said Yamnitz. “Based on the evidence and statements by all the parties involved, you can make the case of self-defense. There will be no charges.”

The Ray County mountain lion showed no signs of having been held in captivity and was in good health. MDC is conducting DNA tests to learn more about its origins and determine if it is the same animal photographed by a landowner in southern Platte County Nov. 26

The mountain lion (Puma concolor) is a protected species under the Wildlife Code. The Code allows the killing of any mountain lion attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals, or threatening human safety. Anyone who kills a mountain lion is required by law to report the incident to the MDC immediately. The intact carcass, including the pelt, must be surrendered to MDC within 24 hours.

To report a sighting, physical evidence or other incident, contact a local MDC office or conservation agent, or email MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team at mountain.lion@mdc.mo.gov.

For more information on mountain lions in Missouri, visit www.MissouriConservation.org and search “mountain lion.”

-Jim Low-