Cougars and Wolves

Occasionally, online exploration can be as fruitful and exciting as outdoor exploration. Here’s the story of a digital hike as winding, breathtaking, and memorable as a mountain or forest trek.

I’ve recently toyed with committing to reading a scientific paper once a week. This week as I read Song of the Dodo I was inspired to look up papers about my growing obsession: wildlife corridors.

Like getting pleasantly sidetracked in the woods, I’m not sure exactly how it happened… somehow, reading “Do Habitat Corridors Provide Connectivity?” – perhaps it was the pregnant phrase “urban matrix likely impenetrable to bobcat and cougar” – led me to a Google search on Cougars (Mountain Lions, Puma concolor).  Shockingly, cougar hunting was an auto-complete option as I typed. A few clicks later, I learned that Cougar hunting is legal, and in my state (Texas), it’s legal any time, by any means.

I find this barbaric.

And I’m not alone. I was so grateful to digitally stumble upon the Cougar Fund that it brought tears to my eyes. I had never heard of it before, and as I let them know:

[The Cougar Fund appeared] among lots of websites promoting hunting, so I was wary, but as soon as I saw the intent of the website and [the video with] Jane Goodall, I was hooked.

Yep, that Jane Goodall. She’s a Director of the Cougar Fund, and in this heart-wrenching video, she explains why sport hunting of cougars needs to end. There’s also a handy donate button on that page, which I gladly used.

Like an unexpected wildlife sighting, in the same internet session the Sierra Club’s efforts to help the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) popped onto my digital trail. So I’m now, for the first time in my life, a Sierra Club member, and have signed the petition to continue the protection of the Gray Wolf. I urge you to do the same. (And if you join, there’s an option to receive a Sierra Club bag. I would have joined anyway, but cool!)

I never thought I’d be political. I never thought I’d be an activist. But these aren’t just charismatic megafauna. They’re living beings, with rights as unalienable as ours. When we spend just a little time studying them, we see their innate worth immediately.

And if we’d stop extirpating species – yes, the cougar and wolf were both native here*! – then people would stop saying about Texas (and I’ve heard this with my own ears several times) “there’s just not much nature there.”

Not much nature?! In the land of mesas and mountain lions, prairies and bison, forests and rivers and alligators and bobcats and armadillos? We’re not just wiping out species; we’re wiping out humanity’s memories of wilderness!

So help the Cougar Fund. Help the Sierra Club. We owe it to the future, for humans and megafauna.

* Gray Wolf range

Cougar range

Hunting Mountain lions is downplayed on the TPWD site, yet cougars are classified as ‘nuisances’.


5 thoughts on “Cougars and Wolves

  1. Sooo true! And the deletion of these key predators from their ecosystems have incredible ramifications down along the line – I read an interesting article expressing how when gray wolves were removed from a western area, the elk started eating up all the willow by an open stream, which they’d never done before because of the threat of wolves. The elk did such damage to the stream that the beavers left, etc, etc. I’m with ya sister. I love me some big predators.

    • Yes! Now how can we help scared suburbanites see the value of big predators? Maybe with sharing facts like you cited, and stories like (I think Nat Geo?) shared about how much better behaved bears are when wolves are around… but is there more to it? What else do we need to do?

  2. show and demonstrate their gentle family side of life rather than the vicious, snarling, threatening stereotypical images most often portrayed.

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