The Missouri River as a Wildlife Highway
Published: August 25, 2015
Presentation by Todd Meese, Wildlife Damage Biologist with Missouri Dept. of Conservation
Original Presentation, August 25, 2015 at Westport Coffeehouse Theater, Kansas City, MO.
Rivers have always served as biological highways, connecting together different locations in a kind of riparian web. As humans continue encroaching on habitat throughout the Midwest, the Missouri River has become an even more important corridor of wildlife dispersal.
Todd Meese’s work with the Missouri Dept. of Conservation has revealed this importance with several species, both those that use the water itself as a highway and those that use the ribbon of forest along the Missouri River as cover for their travels.
Meese discussed his work tracking the movement of the increasing number of mountain lions sighted in the state (55 confirmed sightings since 2002). By detailed DNA analysis, he and his colleagues have determined that most of these are juvenile cats that originated in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Evidence points to the animals using the Missouri and Platte River (NE) corridors as their dispersal highway.
MDC has also been tracking the movements of otters and beaver, both of which use the Missouri River and its tributaries to expand their territory with growing populations. Using these and other species as examples, Meese described the unique stories of these animals, as well as the general concept of our river valleys as important corridors of wildlife movement and habitat expansion.
Resources and Links
Dig deeper for more info on this topic.
- Mo. Dept. of Conservation Mountain Lion Portal
- Mo. Dept. of Conservation Beaver Portal
- Mo. Dept. of Conservation Otter Portal
- MDC Mountain Lion video
- “Mountain Lions keep wandering into Missouri and sometimes Kansas” – by Kristen Polizzi, Kansas City Star, July 15, 2015
- “Motorist hits mountain lion; troopers have to kill it” – Springfield News-Leader, May 12, 2015
- “DNA Reveals different origins for Missouri mountain lions” – MDC press release, May 22, 2012
- Timeline of mountain lion history in the U.S. – Mountain Lion Foundation
- “River Otter Saga” – Missouri Conservationist, June 2007
- “The Big Chew” – Missouri Conservationist, Jan. 1999
The Big Muddy Speakers Series in Kansas City
is hosted by these wonderful partners!
- Little Blue River Watershed Coalition
- Friends of Lakeside Nature Center
- Missouri River Relief
- Healthy Rivers Partnership
- Kansas City Digital Video
Thanks to all of our venue hosts for making this possible! Click here for a list of upcoming presentations» The Big Muddy Speaker Series is also held monthly in Rocheport and St. Charles.
Recordings of Presentations
Kansas City Digital Video has been recording Big Muddy Speaker Series presentations. These are available on their website at this link. Some contain synchronized powerpoint presentations. We will be posting these to the archived presentation pages on bigmuddyspeakers.org. Thanks Micheal Morgan and crew for putting this important archive online! The Big Muddy Speaker Series is partially funded by the Columbia Ecological Services Field Office (USFWS) and the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.