Cougars, you're not Missouri's only rare critters|Richard_F||12/17/06 at 14:16:23|richard_f|xx|0||From the Kansas City (MO) Star: 16 Dec. 2006
Cougars, you're not Missouri's only rare critters

Add elk and African porcupines to the unusual wildlife roaming Missouri this

They join the two cougars that the Missouri Department of Conservation
verified this week, one in northern Missouri and the other in the Current
River area of the Ozarks.

Biologists don't know where the animals, including the cougars, came from or
where they went.

A bow hunter in September saw a bull elk north of St. Joseph. Another hunter
in October reported seeing another bull elk in Daviess County, northeast of
Kansas City.

The first elk was wearing a radio collar that biologists use to track its
movements. It was seen by other hunters several times as it traveled north
toward Iowa, said Lonnie Hansen, a department biologist. The second elk didn
't have a collar. Both elk sported antlers.

But they were not seen during the recently concluded firearms deer season,
he said. Officials don't know why.

Elk sometimes wander into the state from western herds, with the closest
populations in western Kansas and Nebraska.

"They show up once in a while, but they don't seem to get established,"
Hansen said. "They either get hit by a car, or somebody fills their freezer
with elk meat."

Also on the unusual-sighting list are two African porcupines, which were
seen this fall north of Columbia, said department biologist Dave Hamilton.
Those critters escaped from someone who kept exotic wildlife, Hamilton said,
and agents are trying to determine who.