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Missouri hunter admits shooting mountain lion

  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011, at 7:12 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011, at 9:28 a.m.

— Missouri officials say a hunter has admitted that he shot and killed a mountain lion earlier this month.

A cattleman in western Missouri's Ray County initially claimed to have shot the 115-pound cat Jan. 2. Mountain lions are a protected species that may be killed only if they attack or kill livestock or domestic animals or threaten human safety.

But the Conservation Department said Tuesday the cattleman has retracted the claim, and 29-year-old James McElwee of Camden has admitted the shooting.

The agency says no charges will be filed because McElwee feared for his life after his dogs treed the mountain lion while he was hunting raccoons. The cattleman had offered to take responsibility after McElwee and his father-in-law told him about killing the animal.

The cat was Missouri's 12th confirmed mountain lion sighting since 1994.

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