The Magic of Cougars

Times Colonist January 22, 2011

Cougars help make Vancouver Island what it is. Most of us never see one. But their existence confirms that the wildness at the heart of this land has not been lost as humans have claimed more and more space for their own.It’s a rare thing. Across North America, the large wild cats have vanished — hunted or sacrificed to development that removed habitat. The survival of this keystone species on the Island is an indicator of our willingness and ability to keep the natural wilderness alive and intact.

Yet the provincial government doesn’t yet have a cougar management plan. Hunting regulations are set with minimal information and little consideration to regional pressures on cougar populations.

The result, according to a report from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, is that the future of the big cats is endangered. The population on Vancouver Island has fallen from about 1,200 in 1979 to 300 to 400 in 2001, about 10 per cent of the provincial total…

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