Book: The Beast in the Garden

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The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature

Author: David Baron
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company

The time: the late 1980s. The place: Boulder, Colorado. When residents report cats as massive as African leopards in their yards and driveways, it becomes clear that mountain lions (cougars, pumas, panthers) are repopulating the land, rebounding after decades of persecution and bounty hunting.

To inhabitants of the environmentally aware city of Boulder, the lions’ return is cause for celebration—initially. As the massive cats take up residence among houses and feast on pets, the animals’ presence turns ominous, provoking political battles and culminating in the unthinkable—the death of a young athlete, hunted by a lion behind a nearby high school.

David Baron chronicles Boulder’s struggles to coexist with its wild neighbors and reconstructs the paved-with-good-intentions path that led to Colorado’s first recorded fatal mountian lion attack. The book reveals the subtle yet powerful ways in which human actions are altering wildlife behavior, and it demonstrates that the death in Colorado signaled the start of a worrisome trend—one that continues today.

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