Path of the Puma: The Re­mark­able Re­silience of the Moun­tain Lion

Jim Wil­liams

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction -

Patag­o­nia (OC­TO­BER) Hard­cover $24.99 (288pp) 978-1-938340-72-7

Pu­mas (also known as cougars, moun­tain li­ons, and ghost cats) are the least fa­mil­iar of North and South Amer­ica’s big cats. Sel­dom-seen lon­ers, their num­bers are grow­ing even as other species di­min­ish. In Path of the Puma, bi­ol­o­gist Jim Wil­liams shares his knowl­edge, ac­quired over years spent track­ing and study­ing the cats from Canada to South Amer­ica. The ways of pu­mas and their ecosys­tems are eons old, but our un­der­stand­ing of them—and our strate­gies for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence—is still evolv­ing.

Seam­lessly in­ter­weav­ing in­for­ma­tion with Wil­liams’s per­sonal story, the book fol­lows Wil­liams south, from his first as­sign­ment in western Mon­tana down to a stint in Patag­o­nia. His en­thu­si­asm for na­ture and an­i­mals jumps off ev­ery page. This isn’t a book that ad­vo­cates ban­ning hu­mans from the wild, or a scold­ing, hand-wring­ing screed over the “in­evitable” loss of species; rather, it sees hu­mans as part of the mix, and it pro­poses that it is nec­es­sary for our own sur­vival that hu­mans co­ex­ist with other species.

Wil­liams’s writ­ing is ex­pert, friendly, and in­ter­est­ing. Well or­ga­nized and clearly pre­sented, in­for­ma­tion emerges from field work ex­am­ples, such as the track­ing stud­ies that showed that pu­mas feed al­most ex­clu­sively on wild prey rather than do­mes­tic herds. That in­for­ma­tion meant that only a hand­ful of tagged and iden­ti­fied cats needed to be re­lo­cated to re­mote ar­eas.

The book is ex­cep­tion­ally well-pro­duced, durably bound and with dozens of full-page and full-spread color pic­tures. Fi­nal pages in­clude a list of or­ga­ni­za­tions that sup­port wildlife and wilder­ness con­ser­va­tion, and there’s an es­pe­cially help­ful sec­tion on what to do if you en­counter a puma in the wild.

Jim Wil­liams’s fas­ci­nat­ing and in­spir­ing Path of the Puma tracks moun­tain li­ons and their place in the ecosys­tem, show­ing what can be done to pre­serve their habi­tat while en­joy­ing our own. SUSAN WAGGONER

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