In California, we share our landscapes with mountain lions. Or cougars, pumas, and panthers, as they are also known. In fact, cougars have lived alongside humans in the Golden State for tens of thousands of years. And as was the case with other wildlife, they suffered greatly when European settlers expanded into the region. For decades, they were killed for bounty, then for predator management , and for a brief period, for sport.
Despite all this, the animals have persisted in California, as they have throughout much of their range, which extends from Canada to Argentina. And increasingly, we’re able to see them thanks to camera traps and security cameras that catch them slinking through San Francisco neighborhoods, exploring the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab grounds, and walking along Napa trails. So what does it mean to live with mountain lions in urban areas like San Francisco and Berkeley, or in more rural areas like Sonoma county and the Santa Cruz Mountains? What do we know of the pumas we rarely see in person? What lives do they live? What threats do they currently face? And what has California done to protect them?
Terra Verde host and Earth Island Journal Managing Editor Zoe Loftus-Farren talks with Sharon Negri, Founder and Director of Wild Futures, which works to foster safe coexistence between people and wildlife, and Leslie Patten, author of Ghost Walker: Tracking a Mountain Lion’s Soul Through Science and Story to explore these questions and more.