Welcome to Lion Country: America’s Big Cat Comeback

Call it the puma, panther, the catamount or cougar; whatever name you use for America’s big cat, get ready to hear it a lot.

Mountain lions once roamed the continent from sea to shining sea, but by the turn of the 20th century, they were almost completely wiped out. Now, for the first time in more than a century, their numbers are growing – and fast. It’s a triumph for America’s ecosystems, but can we learn to live with an apex predator in our backyard? It’s a question most Americans have to face as the cats make their comeback: if you don’t live in lion country now, you will soon.

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Jim Williams is a wildlife biologist and author of The Path of the Puma: The Remarkable Resiliance of The Mountain Lion.  Published by Patagonia, the acclaimed  book celebrates wildlife research and conservation of mountain lions from Canada’s southern Yukon Territory to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and Chile, exploring what makes this cat, the fourth carnivore in the food chain—just ahead of humans—so resilient and resourceful. Jim has been working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for over 27 years and has been focused on mountain lion and other wildlife conservation issues in various roles throughout his career.

John “Griff” Griffith is the host of Animal Planet’s show “Wild Jobs” and has dedicated his life to helping people understand the natural world around them. He leads talks, tours and educational programs at California state parks and writes fiction, aimed at teaching young adults about endangered species. He also makes videos and content for his nearly 20,000 social media followers. Griff’s got a soft spot for predators – especially mountain lions – because he’s seen firsthand what can happen when humans react to them with fear. 

Christopher Spatz is a former president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation and a director of the Gunks Climbers’ Coalition. He writes and lectures about the natural history of the Catskill Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge where he lives in southern New York State, and where he caught the spell of the fabled eastern cougar.

Support These Great Organizations

The Cougar Rewilding Foundation is a non-profit, science-based, volunteer-run conservation organization dedicated to the recovery of cougars (pumas, mountain lions) to all of their former range east of the Rockies.

Patagonia Books is intended as a way to advance the love of books as well as nature and a reflective life. They publish a select number of titles on wilderness, wildlife, and outdoor sports that inspire and restore connection to the natural world.

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Production Credits

This episode of the Roaring Earth podcast was written and produced by Kate Morgan. Casey O’Brien was the associate producer. Sound engineering and original music was provided by Joe Bussiere. Jan Renner and Glen Hoffman are the executive producers.