Remembering A Missouri Mountain Lion Expert
After spending time with Dave, it was easy to see what a passion he had for his job. As a wildlife biologist, Dave probably knew more about big cats in Missouri than anyone else. We are very sad to report, Dave passed away earlier this month at the age of 52. In this day and age of high technology, Dave used simple technology to verify mountain lion sightings in the state. Now we'll remember a demonstration with Dave.
"This is Max, we call him Max because he is maximum size of an adult male mountain lion from Colorado," Dave said. "There are different sizes depending on what part of the country. Colorado has the largest, this is on the upper end of an adult male. So Max, if Max were real, he would weigh about 150 pounds. He's about 8 feet long, they get up to 9 feet. He's about 8 feet long."
"Obviously the mountain lion can be controversial," Larry Vangilder of the Department of Conservation said. "And you know he [Dave] could work with people, he could kinda steer them towards what the real issues were with the mountain lions, and help them see the track was really a dog track, and not a mountain lion. So there was a teaching element there."
"We want to line it up as best we can with the acutal spots, and take some measurements off the photograph, and give us an estimate about the size of the cat that was here," Dave said later in his demonstration. "That's for an adult male, his shoulder comes to right there. So this is, people think that thing is as big as an elephant. Well, it's as big as a mountain lion."
"His job obviously was incredibly important to the Conservation Department, and to the resources of the State of Missouri," Vangilder said. "You know there are just some elements, you just can't replace Dave, no doubt."
The Missouri Department of Conservation doesn't know who's going to replace Dave, but we do know, his death was a huge loss when it comes to tracking mountain lions across Missouri.
Though those of us he left behind wonder how we will replace him, Hamilton seemed to be at peace. On the day of his death, Hamilton wrote in his journal, "I need to show God every day how much I look forward to being with Him in Heaven."
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