Paula has always been drawn to tran­quil forests, secluded beaches and the sounds of the nat­ur­al world. As a child she wandered the woods, rav­ines and hills of the Piedmont Pines area of Oakland, California; today most of her explor­ing takes place on Vancouver Island.

Paula and Shannon Bailey

Paula and Shannon Bailey at Nuchatlitz Provincial Park. Photo by Dodie Eyer

Although Paula some­times roamed the coun­tryside alone, she nev­er wor­ried about cou­gars. But begin­ning in the 1990s, attacks against humans spiked. She heard a story about two young­sters who fended off a cou­gar and wondered how they’d done so.

Then she heard a cou­gar scream in the green space behind her home. She read an art­icle about cou­gar safety and aware­ness. She emailed the author, Dave Eyer, some ques­tions. When she wanted to know more, Paula sug­ges­ted he write a book. Eyer declined but offered to help her with one.

That launched an intense two and a half year jour­ney of inter­view­ing sci­ent­ists, wild­life offi­cials, zoo keep­ers, cou­gar hunters and people who have shared their homes with cou­gars. Paula also took a two-day safety and aware­ness course that involved mock encoun­ters with life-size card­board cut-outs of cou­gars char­ging at 72 kilo­metres (45 miles) per hour.

Collared cougar in tree

Photo by Steve Winter, Panthera

She was intrigued by the elu­sive, mys­ter­i­ous nature of the big cats, shocked at the near decim­a­tion of their pop­u­la­tions by bounty hunt­ing and sur­prised by the num­ber of cou­gars migrat­ing back to ter­rit­or­ies they hadn’t occu­pied in a cen­tury.

And when she dis­covered the increas­ing and some­times start­lingly close prox­im­ity of cou­gars and humans, she wondered how both spe­cies could share the land­scape with the least risk to both.

As she stud­ied the situ­ation it became appar­ent that people’s per­cep­tions and cou­gar pop­u­la­tions are intim­ately con­nec­ted and that this rela­tion­ship has the poten­tial to pro­foundly affect the envir­on­ment.

Paula was born in Spokane, Washington, grew up in Oregon and California and immig­rated to Canada when she was 19. She is the author of One River, Two Cultures, The Comox Valley and Sointula Island Utopia, win­ner of a BC Historical Federation Certificate of Merit.

Paula has also writ­ten for numer­ous peri­od­ic­als includ­ing Beautiful British Columbia, Canada’s History Magazine and the Vancouver Sun. Her work has been nom­in­ated for National Magazine Awards and she received the John Alexander Media Award for “On a Mission for Life.” She lives in Courtenay, BC.

Paula Wild's books

Click on the nav­ig­a­tion links below to read about the books Paula has writ­ten and what she’s work­ing on now.