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.
Chapter 1. The Lord of Stealthy Murder, and Other Misconceptions
Chapter 2. Staying Safe in Lion Country
Chapter 3. Of Lions, Pets, and Livestock
Chapter 4. Sharing Prey with Mountain Lions
Chapter 5. The Great Hunting Debate
Chapter 6. Lions on the Eastern Seaboard
Chapter 7. How to Love a Keystone Predator
Chapter 8. The Money Behind Mountain Lion Management
Chapter 9. Toward Coexistence with Mountain Lions
About the Author
"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
"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