The are not only here in North Central Mo they have been here for quite some time.
My uncle had in encounter back in the 80's when he was working in his auto body shop which is located next to a large forested area in Macon Co.. He had been working with his garage door open with his back facing the door, it was late at night and he was wrapping up his days work. When he turned around there was a large cat that he says was a mountain lion stalking up behind him in the driveway by the garage door that was open less than 10 feet way. When he turned and saw it, he yelled at the cat and spooked it, it then ran into the woods. He didn't bother reporting it to MDC because others people we knew that had sited them and reported the sitings were told that they were extinct in Missouri and the MDC had chalked sitings up as mis-identifaction and over active imaginations without even coming out to investigate.
I personally have seen mountain lions on several occasions over the years. My first siting was in Macon County back in the early 96's when it crossed the road in broad daylight as I took my wife to a prenatal appointment. Then again at the same location several years in 2008 when I was taking my son to go deer hunting on the property my in-laws rent which is less than a mile away from where we sited the lion.
My in-laws had seen them multiple times and believe the cats have killed some of their calves and chickens. I have spent the night out at their place a few nights and you can hear what sounds like screaming very similar to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKw4OFAu1WM
. We have also seen tracks down in the creek while mushroom hunting. My in-laws contacted the MDC and got a reply back just a few weeks ago saying the mountain lions don't exist in North Central Missouri.
My brother who is an active rock hunter/outdoorsman has seen tracks and what he thinks is a den close to a creek near the Macon/Linn county lines. Nearby there was a lot of deer bones and other bones littered in a treeline. He didn't want to risk a encounter with the cat so he didn't investigate it any further.
I could list sitings from many other people. It is disappointing that MDC doesn't take these sitings more seriously IMO. Most people around here don't even bother reporting them anymore. They didn't take the sighting in southern and central MO. seriously until people started shooting them and carcasses of lions were strewn along the road after they were hit by cars.