Vancouver Island is known not only for having the highest density of cougars, but also the most aggressive cougar population in North America. Join local author Paula Wild as she celebrates the launch of her new book that explores our evolving relationship with this enigmatic animal, The Cougar: Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous (Douglas & McIntyre, $34.95), at the Courtenay and District Museum (207 Fourth Street) on Saturday, October 5 from 2pm to 4pm. This event is free, everyone is welcome and refreshments will be provided.
Cougars, mountain lions, pumas…no matter what you call them these powerful animals are undoubtedly impressive. The cougar is the largest cat in Canada, weighing in at up to 230 pounds, 90% of which is pure muscle. They can leap nearly 18 metres up from a stand-still, and 14 metres across. Their large padded paws allow this elusive predator to travel great distances in near silence and they’re absolute masters at blending in.
Chances are, anyone who spends time in the woods in cougar country has been close to a cougar, whether they knew it or not. It can be a scary thought, especially combined with the lengthy history of recorded encounters that have occurred on Vancouver Island in the last 200 years or more, many of which are told in Paula Wild’s The Cougar. There are tales of bounty hunters like the infamous Cougar Annie who shot a cougar on her seventy-third birthday; attack stories like that of the woman living in a logging camp in the ’50s who was attacked two separate times by the same cougar in one day, it had so fixated on her as prey; and surprising accounts of encounters occurring where you’d least expect it, like the parking garage at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.
However, as Wild says in The Cougar, “co-existing with cougars isn’t about fear, it’s about knowledge.” Through a skillful blend of natural history, scientific research and many first-hand accounts, along with amazing photos and detailed information on what to do in the case of a cougar encounter, Wild explores what makes this animal that has both fascinated and frightened Vancouver Islanders throughout history so beautiful, so dangerous, and why cougars remain such an important and valuable part of our environment.
Paula Wild is the author of several books, including One River, Two Cultures, The Comox Valley and Sointula Island Utopia, winner of a B.C. Historical Federation Certificate of Merit. She has also written for numerous periodicals, including Beautiful British Columbia, Reader’s Digest and Canada’s History Magazine. She lives in Courtenay, B.C. with her partner, Rick James. To learn more about cougars, visit Paula’s website at www.paulawild.ca .
Doors open for the launch celebration at 2pm, for a chance to chat with the author and get books signed, with Wild’s presentation about sharing our landscape with the elusive cougar beginning at 2:30pm, to be followed by another book signing and refreshments. For more information about this event, please contact the Courtenay and District Museum at 250.334.0686.