The Cougar wins gold!

I’d for­got­ten about the Foreword Review’s IndieFab Nature Book of the Year nom­in­a­tion so was caught totally off guard when The Cougar re­ceived the gold award!

As al­ways, I’m so grate­ful for the sup­port and great work  done by my pub­lish­er, Douglas & McIntyre and to all the people who so gen­er­ously con­trib­uted their know­ledge, ex­per­i­ences and pho­to­graphs. The book would­n’t ex­ist without them.

Renee Andor wrote a great art­icle about The Cougar’s win in the Comox Valley Record.


Cougar chasing monkey in tree for food…or fun?

Cougars are hard-wired to kill, that’s how they sur­vive. But do they al­ways chase prey be­cause they’re hungry? No one knows for sure.

There are in­stances where cou­gars chose to tackle large prey such as a buck elk even when smal­ler an­im­als are read­ily ac­cess­ible. Biologist and cou­gar safety ex­pert, Dave Eyer, spec­u­lates this might be be­cause some cou­gars like a big chal­lenge even when no one’s around to applaud.

I’ll take that one step fur­ther and sug­gest that some­times cou­gars chase prey for prac­tise or for the sheer pleas­ure of the pur­suit. Of course, if they catch what they’re after, they’ll kill and eat it.

Take a look at these pho­tos of a cou­gar chas­ing a howl­er money through the trees in Costa Rica and see what you think.






Cougar leaping fence

Cougars are built for short-term speed, agil­ity and strength. Their skelet­al struc­ture is held to­geth­er by muscle more than lig­a­ments, which makes them in­cred­ibly flexible.

Much of the big cat’s strength is found in their power­ful rear legs, which can pro­pel them five metres straight up from a stand­still and 14 metres ho­ri­zont­ally onto the back of their prey.

To view an ex­ample of a cou­gar ef­fort­less jump­ing, watch this short trail cam­era clip. Note how the cou­gar by­passes the lower part of the fence to eas­ily bound over as two metre high section.


Can you see this cougar peeking over the backyard fence? Jumping over it would be as easy as for the big cat as blinking an eye.
Can you see this cou­gar peek­ing over the back­yard fence? Jumping over it would be as easy as for the big cat as blink­ing an eye.


Wild female cougar adopts orphaned cubs

Cougar cubs lead pre­cari­ous lives. Other pred­at­ors – even male cou­gars — prey on them. They can also be­come sick or get in­jured. But per­haps the worst thing that can hap­pen is los­ing their mom.

This three-week old cougar kitten was photographed in southern California by Eric York while working for UC Davis Wildlife Health Center.
This three-week old cou­gar kit­ten was pho­to­graphed in south­ern California by Eric York while work­ing for UC Davis Wildlife Health Center.

Most young adult cou­gars head out on their own when they’re 18-months to two-years old. By that time they have rudi­ment­ary hunt­ing skills and are usu­ally large enough to take down prey on their own. Even then some young cou­gars don’t survive.

But if mom is shot by a hunter, hit by a car or killed tak­ing down prey when her cubs are young­er than 18-months old, their chances of sur­viv­al de­crease dramatically.

Cougars are se­cret­ive car­ni­vores so much about their day-to-day lives and re­la­tion­ships with each oth­er re­mains un­known. So it was a real sur­prise when re­search­ers with Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming dis­covered a fe­male cou­gar with young of her own had ad­op­ted three orphaned cubs.

Teton Cougar Project dir­ect­or, Howard Quigley, tells the story in New Insight into Cougar Behaviour.