The Cougar is a skillful blend of natural history, scientific research, First Nations stories and first person accounts. With her in-depth research, Wild explores the relationship between mountain lions and humans, and provides the most up-to-date information on cougar awareness and defense tactics for those living, working or travelling in cougar country.
In this engaging study, B.C.-based author Wild (One River, Two Cultures) details the complex relationship between humans and the big cats that serve as "compelling icons of everything humans fear and admire." Part natural history/part wildlife guide aimed at general audiences, Wild's book details how cougar-human interactions changed over time to reflect the cat's shifting role from respected "lord of the forest" to reviled varmint to revered wilderness symbol. Cougars were symbols of "physical and spiritual strength" to indigenous peoples, but these animals suffered the onslaught of western expansion in the 19th century. The need to protect homesteads spurred cougar bounty hunting by the likes of Vancouver Island eccentric "Cougar Annie" Rae-Arthur and others. By the turn-of-the-century, sport hunters like U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt also targeted cougars as stealthy quarry, but a greater understanding of predators' ecological importance changed human attitudes towards mountain lions in the mid-20th century and led to the conservation efforts that continue today. Wild concludes with helpful tips on living safely in cougar country and urges a greater understanding of these predators in order to create a more harmonious human-feline coexistence. With rich photos and lively prose, Wild's informative book should be of interest to wildlife specialists and general readers alike.