Cougar, by Neil McIntosh.
Cougars kill humans, but rarely. Between 1890 and 1989, in theUnited States and Canada, records show a total of 36 attacks, 11 of which resulted in human deaths. Of the 15 cats-all of whom were later killed-a full 80 percent were sick or underweight.
Rick Hopkins, a cougar biologist who has studied the cats in theDiablo Mountains of northern California, says the risk of an attack is one in 25 million. So when the poet Gary Snyder writes,"The wild is perhaps the very possibility of being eaten by a mountain lion," we have to take this as poetic license. In their authoritative book "Wild Cats of the World," Mel and Fiona Sunquist write:
"Like cheetahs, pumas are gentle, retiring cats, more eager to flee than fight, and both species rarely confront humans." (Though we have seen that they are not so gentle when it comes to one another,and this view is not accepted by all researchers.)
A man-eating leopard in India in the 1920s was thought to have killed 125 people. After the Indian army sent a company of Gurkha soldiers to kill the feared "beast" but returned without success, theBritish Parliament asked Jim Corbett, a famed big-cat hunter, to find and kill the leopard. He finally succeeded in 1925. In his book"The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag," Corbett notes: "Here was only an old leopard, who differed from others of his kind in that his muzzle was grey and his lips lacked whiskers; the best-hated and the most feared animal in all India, whose only crime-not against the laws of nature, but against the laws of man-was that he had shed human blood with no object of terrorizing man, but only in order that he might live."