'Western cougar populations have been increasing since the 1960s, largely due to increased legal protection for the cats and to the growth and expansion of prey populations. Dr. Maurice Hornocker, a prominent cougar expert, was recently quoted as saying "There may now be more mountain lions in the West than there were before European settlement." The evidence that the Cougar Network has collected to date suggests that the species is beginning to re-colonize several of the adjacent prairie states, and possibly even some of the Midwestern and Southeastern states as well.' We've had two confirmed sighting in my area and several in MO and AR.
The confirmation page on the Big Picture Map would support this last statement. Does give the solo hiker pause, lol. Although as somewhere I read,or was told, if you see one, they're likely not interested in you for dinner. If they are, you'll probably never know it til it's too late. There are worse ways to meet your demise :)