When Moun­tain Lions Are Neigh­bors: Peo­ple and Wildlife Work­ing It Out in Cal­i­for­nia

Beth Pratt-bergstrom

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - JEFF FLEIS­CHER

Hey­day Books Soft­cover $18 (240pp) 978-1-59714-346-2

When Moun­tain Lions Are Neigh­bors

fo­cuses on a se­ri­ous prob­lem by pre­sent­ing mean­ing­ful so­lu­tions.

At a time when books about con­ser­va­tion of­ten and un­der­stand­ably fo­cus on chal­lenges and failures, Beth Pratt-bergstrom’s When Moun­tain Lions Are Neigh­bors, co-pub­lished by Hey­day and Na­tional Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, beau­ti­fully cap­tures a se­ries of suc­cesses, all in Cal­i­for­nia. By fo­cus­ing on in­di­vid­ual case stud­ies, and of­ten in­di­vid­ual an­i­mals, the book turns th­ese ex­am­ples into ef­fec­tive nar­ra­tive sto­ries.

P-22, a young male moun­tain lion who made his home in Los An­ge­les’s Grif­fith Park, be­came a so­cial-me­dia phe­nom­e­non. The pub­lic took an in­ter­est in pro­tect­ing him, and re­searchers have tracked him since his ar­rival in the city, learn­ing much about how moun­tain lions sur­vive in ur­ban ar­eas. In the same way that this in­di­vid­ual lion has ed­u­cated An­geli­nos about his species, Prat­tbergstrom uses P-22 to dis­cuss how the an­i­mals sur­vive in one of Amer­ica’s largest cities.

Other chap­ters tell sim­i­lar sto­ries about wild an­i­mals liv­ing in some of Cal­i­for­nia’s most pop­u­lated ar­eas, and how their prox­im­ity has made peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate the na­tive fauna. Prat­tbergstrom re­lates how har­bor por­poises re­cently re­turned to San Fran­cisco Bay, af­ter an ab­sence of more than six decades. Once plen­ti­ful in the Bay, por­poises left in the 1940s af­ter the mil­i­tary mined the area and the waters be­came a reg­u­lar dump­ing ground for sewage and in­dus­trial waste. Their sur­prise re­turn in the twenty-first cen­tury demon­strates that en­vi­ron­men­tal cleanup and habi­tat restora­tion can still work.

Pratt-bergstrom also de­scribes how Yosemite Na­tional Park has im­proved its ap­proach to its bear pop­u­la­tion. Where once an­i­mals were reg­u­larly killed for en­croach­ing on hu­man ar­eas, a prob­lem caused by the avail­abil­ity of food there, to­day vis­i­tor ed­u­ca­tion and “bear proof­ing” ef­forts have taught the an­i­mals to be wild again. Other ex­am­ples of suc­cess­ful coex­is­tence in­clude the fam­ily of foxes that made its home on Face­book’s Sil­i­con Val­ley cam­pus, and the re­turn of wolves to the state for the first time in ninety years.

Along with th­ese sto­ries, Pratt-bergstrom in­cludes more than a dozen short sto­ries of in­di­vid­ual con­ser­va­tion­ists who’ve made a dif­fer­ence for a par­tic­u­lar species, and in­cludes an ex­cel­lent re­sources sec­tion with ways to get in­volved. When Moun­tain Lions Are Neigh­bors fo­cuses on a se­ri­ous prob­lem by pre­sent­ing mean­ing­ful so­lu­tions, and is as en­joy­able to read as it is in­for­ma­tive.

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