The relationship between humans and mountain lions has always been uneasy. A century ago, mountain lions were vilified as a threat to livestock and hunted to the verge of extinction. In recent years, this keystone predator has made a remarkable comeback, but today humans and mountain lions appear destined for a collision course. Its recovery has led to an unexpected conundrum: Do more mountain lions mean they’re a threat to humans and domestic animals? Or, are mountain lions still in need of our help and protection as their habitat dwindles and they’re forced into the edges and crevices of communities to survive?
Mountain lion biologist and expert Mark Elbroch welcomes these tough questions. He dismisses long-held myths about mountain lions and uses groundbreaking science to uncover important new information about their social habits. Elbroch argues that humans and mountain lions can peacefully coexist in close proximity if we ignore uninformed hype and instead arm ourselves with knowledge and common sense. He walks us through the realities of human safety in the presence of mountain lions, livestock safety, competition with hunters for deer and elk, and threats to rare species, dispelling the paranoia with facts and logic. In the last few chapters, he touches on human impacts on mountain lions and the need for a sensible management strategy. The result, he argues, is a win-win for humans, mountain lions, and the ecosystems that depend on keystone predators to keep them in healthy balance.
The Cougar Conundrum delivers a clear-eyed assessment of a modern wildlife challenge, offering practical advice for wildlife managers, conservationists, hunters, and those in the wildland-urban interface who share their habitat with large predators.
About the Author
Mark Elbroch is an internationally recognized expert on carnivores and mountain lions. He is Puma (Mountain Lion) Program Director for Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization. He has contributed to puma research and conservation in Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Mexico, and Chile, and has worked as a wildlife consultant across North America, specializing in field inventories, the identification of wildlife corridors, and supporting capture efforts of diverse species. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic’s CatWatch Blog and has authored and coauthored ten books on natural history. He is a 2011 Switzer Fellow.
"Elbroch takes readers on a tour of cougar biology and ecology, emphasizing how important the big cats are to the ecosystem...Policymakers, conservationists, and hunters alike will find this a useful, if sometimes controversial, handbook."
— Kirkus Reviews
"A concise account illustrating issues surrounding wildlife conservation efforts in the United States while providing an informative natural history of the mountain lion."
— Library Journal
“The book…is perfect for wildlife biologists, the general public, and nature enthusiasts, especially those who want to learn how to live successfully with a large carnivore that has been given an unduly bad rap for being dangerous around people…This is an important book.”
— Canadian Field Naturalist
"This is an enlightening book that provides facts and hope for this animal’s future."
— Wildlife Activist
“The Cougar Conundrum belongs in any nature collection strong in conservation and animal protection, discussing the rise of mountain lions in human areas and why they should be considered a positive force…. The result is a powerful survey especially recommended for those who live in areas where cougars are making a comeback.”
— Donovan's Bookshelf
"This is a well-illustrated and very readable book that explores a range of different perspectives on the challenges of living with the cougar …. This book will be of interest to policy makers and conservation scientists, as well as nature enthusiasts and community members living in areas where cougars are present."
— Conservation Biology
"The mountain lion deserves more champions like Mark Elbroch. In The Cougar Conundrum, the biologist Elbroch debunks the pernicious myths fueling the persecution of North America’s iconic big cat. But the optimist Elbroch offers a more compelling vision of coexistence with one of nature’s most wondrous creations."
— Will Stolzenburg, author of "Heart of a Lion"
"Pumas are a felid species whose range connects the American continent. From Canada to Argentina, managers share similar challenges protecting this resilient cat and finding a path toward coexistence."
— Sandra Ortiz, veterinarian, and vice president, Latin America, Wild Felid Association
"This thought-provoking book reflects Elbroch’s relentless pursuit to challenge state wildlife agencies to promote a new standard of inclusivity in wildlife decision making and manage cougars on peer-reviewed science."
— Jim Williams, author of "Path of the Puma" and Regional Supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
"The Cougar Conundrum is a deep dive into the most widely distributed and successful large carnivore in the western hemisphere. This book will help you consider the place of big predators and people on the planet and how to create a new era of reasonable coexistence, including restoration of cougars into a substantial fraction of their former range."
— Paul Beier, Regents’ Professor of Conservation Biology, Northern Arizona University