From Publishers Weekly
In 1991, in Idaho Springs, Colo., a small town not far from Boulder, a young jogger was killed and partially eaten by a mountain lion. Although people were horrified, biologist Michael Sanders and naturalist Jim Halfpenny were not surprised. Since 1988 they had been studying the mountain lions that were invading backyards in the Boulder area in increasing numbers and had concluded that, contrary to the accepted wisdom that these lions don't attack people, the big cats were indeed stalking humans in search of a good meal. In an engrossing book that reads like a true crime thriller, Baron, a science and environmental writer, follows the advance of mountain lions around Boulder as if they were serial killers, building tension as he leads up to the killing. There were plenty of warnings. Numerous homeowners saw lions in their yards, dogs were maimed or eaten and a girl was attacked but survived. Sanders and Halfpenny tried to convince the wildlife-loving Boulderites that a tragedy was about to occur, but people believed they could coexist peacefully with the lions, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife was also determined to leave the animals alone. Even after Scott Lancaster, the Idaho Springs jogger, was killed, area residents refused to endorse killing the big cats that moved into their neighborhoods. Baron is not in favor of killing unwanted lions, but in this timely book he warns that as people continue to displace wild animals from their habitats, they have to change the way they interact with them and be more realistic about romantic notions of wilderness. Illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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An award-winning science journalist for National Public Radio, Baron examines the complex relationship between humans and cougars, both in the past, when the predators were nearly hunted into extinction, and in the present, as more homes are built in wilderness areas and more people find themselves face-to-face with predators who not only have no fear of humans but also have discovered in human habitats new sources of food. Baron uses the environmentally sensitive city of Boulder, Colorado, as a microcosm of the cougar-human conflict, which came to a head during the 1980s when mountain lions were killing house pets and threatening children and adults. Although Baron can't resist playing up the sensational aspects of cougar attacks, he does perceptively dissect both sides of the impassioned debate these terrifying confrontations engender, revealing how naive and unrealistic the live-and-let-live approach can be, and how easy it is to take the kill-the-miserable-beasts response to unreasonable extremes. For more on man-eaters, see David Quammen's Monster of God
[BKL Jl 03] and Phillip Caputo's Ghosts of Tsavo
(2002). Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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