Okay, at the risk of having Richard or Brian or anyone else here make fun of me, I wish to chime in. Firstly, I do know the original post was from 2009, but I believe the mountain lion populations have been growing steadily every year, bringing the subject closer & closer to home (I mean literally, in some places), so while they may not be seen, you can pretty much bet they are out there...
We have them here in south-central Wisconsin, even tho the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) denied it for several years. One was spotted only about a mile from our place after killing a neighbor's cow - and we don't even live "out in the middle of nowhere" (as I lovingly refer to the Moon Creek area). (We also have an occasional black bear sighting here & I personally saw a wolverine on our property.) After neighbors reported animal maulings & killings, the DNR did acknowledge that a few mountain lions might be around, but a little while after that, the news came out that several years ago,the DNR had released at least one breeding pair into a wildlife refuge about 35 miles north of us, without telling the public... so they knew all along.
One year (I think maybe 2007) my husband wanted to bow hunt on my uncle & aunt's place near the North Unit of Teddy Roosevelt Park in western ND. They had witnessed a pair of cougars cross the road in front of them near their place, & another lady nearby watched one walk by her kitchen door out on the ranch, so we knew they were there. I called the state of ND to ask if my husband would be allowed to carry a handgun for safety against cougar attack, given these sightings, & was told "there are no mountain lions in that part of North Dakota." This was in Sept. & the following January, my family sent us a news clip that North Dakota had authorized a hunt with 5 licenses being sold & I believe all were filled in a very short time.
There will always be people trying to "tame" wild animals, even tho most of us are told when we're children that it can't be done - that you should never completely trust an animal that was once wild or has wild genes. There will always be people wanting to study the animals. There will always be parents who are concerned for the safety of their children with regards to any wild animals or those with wild genes that may wander into their neighborhood. And there will always be people who want one of everything hanging on their trophy wall. That's the world we live in. I think the most important thing is to treat animals with respect & caution.
Lastly, thanks so much Carol, for posting some actual statistics. :0)