COUGAR! by Harold P. Danz


Age Range: 0 - 8040
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paper 0-8040-1015-3 Note your place in the food chain, suggests former Park Service officer Danz. It is an apex position, but you are not alone at the top. Meet the cougar. “The cougar is one of the slickest predators on the face of the earth,” Danz informs us. It is also one of the most furtive (a night stalker, a shadow cat), and it is a carnivore (of skunk and cow, elk and jogger) that finds palatability ’secondary to opportunity.” As such, it has been the scourge of ranchers and hunters and the occasional distraught relative of a missing person, and has suffered the consequences, mostly death by bullet. Danz has gathered here much of the information published on the cougar, from the origins of its many fanciful names (catamount, painter, puma, mountain lion, panther) to behavioral characteristics, to how it relates on interspecies and intraspecies levels. Mostly though, Danz is fascinated by the human-cougar relationship, in particular its disharmonies. He doesn’t dismiss the awe in which we hold the cat or the respect it receives from Native Americans (though it never achieved iconic status), or what an acute loss the disappearance of such a charismatic animal would be. But he is taken with the simple fact that the cougar eats people; he documents in detail each known incident, and he warns of increasing attacks as cougar habitat is encroached upon by development. Danz lets readers know just where he stands: “If a cougar . . . should threaten human life, then allowance and accommodation is no longer an acceptable or appropriate action,” though it is clear he would defend the cat up to that point. This is an admirable synthesis and summary of cougar knowledge. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8040-1014-5
Page count: 306pp
Publisher: Swallow Press/Ohio Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1999