Whether you call them cougars, pumas, or mountain lions, they’re all the same cat. They were nearly wiped out along the coast of California near Santa Cruz where I live, but since they were given protection in 1990, they’ve rebounded. They now occur even at the edges of towns and cities, but they are very good at avoiding people. I’ve seen tracks close to my home, but it took the company of a researcher and a tracker to come eye to eye with this splendid big cat looking down on us from an old oak tree. The comeback of cougars in California is a success story, and it shows what can happen if we’re tolerant of apex predators and if we’re protecting enough wild land where they can survive. Stay tuned @FransLanting for more images that celebrate wild California.
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Santa Cruz, California