Cougars on the Cliff: One Man's Pioneering Quest to Understand the Mythical Mountain Lion, A Memoir

Cougars on the Cliff: One Man's Pioneering Quest to Understand the Mythical Mountain Lion, A Memoir

Cougars on the Cliff: One Man's Pioneering Quest to Understand the Mythical Mountain Lion, A Memoir

Cougars on the Cliff: One Man's Pioneering Quest to Understand the Mythical Mountain Lion, A Memoir


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Maurice Hornocker is recognized worldwide as the first scientist to unravel the secrets of America's most enigmatic predator—the mountain lion. A story of redemption, this book is a memoir about the never-before-told adventures, challenges, and controversies surrounding Hornocker’s groundbreaking study of cougars in the remote reaches of the Idaho Primitive Area. North America's biggest cat was once killed for bounty dollars, slaughtered with impunity and driven toward extinction. But today's cat of intrigue, despite our lingering fears and misconceptions, has returned to much of its native range in the western United States and gained respect as a predator integral and necessary to wild ecosystems. This turnaround was triggered by one man: Maurice Hornocker. Cougars on the Cliff recounts the early years of his research (1964–1973) when he tracked lions following a dog’s nose and footprints in the snow—before telemetry was available. Hornocker was first to learn that mountain lions living in stable populations limit their own numbers through territoriality and a concept he called “mutual avoidance.” This insight flew in the face of long-held beliefs that cougars were prolific and wanton killers that needed to be controlled as vermin. Thanks to Hornocker’s work, today cougars can be found throughout the West and have even started to reclaim their place in New England.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493073290
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 07/01/2023
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 225,745
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Maurice Hornocker, PhD, is a wildlife biologist best known for advancing our knowledge of the elusive mountain lion's behavior and ecology. During his fifty-five years of research in Idaho, New Mexico, and Yellowstone National Park, he published numerous scientific papers about cougars and edited books that include “Cougar: Ecology & Conservation,” “Yellowstone Cougars” (which was the recipient of a 2020 The Wildlife Society Publication Award), and “Desert Puma” (which was the recipient of the 2002 The Wildlife Society Book of the Year Award). His writing, research, and mountain lion photographs have appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, and National Wildlife magazine. He and his colleagues have also conducted pioneering research on other big cat species throughout the world including Siberian tigers, jaguars, leopards, ocelots, lynx, and bobcats. Hornocker and his wife, Leslie, live in Bellevue, Idaho, with their bird dogs, dressage horses, and a domestic cat named Redd.

David Johnson is a retired roving regional reporter-columnist for the Lewiston Tribune in Lewiston, Idaho. He holds bachelor's degrees in wildlife management from the University of Minnesota and journalism from the University of Idaho. Johnson lives with is wife, Linda Weiford, in Moscow, Idaho.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Maurice Hornocker is the embodiment of "boots on the ground" conservation in remote, forbidding places. He is recognized as the world's premier mountain lion expert, and his professional history coincides with the recovery of this great wild cat from near-extinction. Dr. Hornocker has mentored a number of colleagues who promise to carry on his invaluable legacy. His personal chronicle is an inviting look into a Western icon of conservation practice.” —Steven E. Sanderson, PhD President Emeritus, former Chief Executive Officer The Wildlife Conservation Society

“I have know Maurice Hornocker and his cougar work for several decades. As one who has also specialized in large-carnivore research for my career, primarily wolves, I always considered Maurice as “The Cougar Guy.” He certainly pioneered cougar studies and he and his students and associates have produced most of the basic information science knows about the big cats. I know of no one else who has come close in the amount of information Maurice has turned up about cougars.” —L.David Mech Senior Research Scientist, United States Geological Survey (USGS)

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