It was a loud scream that made author Paula Wild realize that a large feline was lurking nearby.
“I heard a cougar scream in the middle of the night in the green space behind my home,” Wild recalled. “It made me realize that they really are out there and sometimes that they are really close.”
It wasn’t long afterwards that the Courtenay resident’s curiosity got the better of her and she began looking up information on the animal.
“I started doing research and I thought that it was so interesting, so I wanted to write a book about it,” she said.
A few years later, Wild released The Cougar: Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous, an award-winning, in-depth book about Canada’s largest cat.
“The book does talk about all different aspects of cougars ... and it does deal with cougars attacking humans. There is quite a lot of information,” Wild said about her book, which won gold for Nature Book of the Year at the Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Awards.
On Sept. 11, Wild, who has released a total of six books, will be at Nanoose library as part of a speaking engagement on cougars and humans titled Sharing the Landscape: Can Cougars and Humans Co-exist?
“There are some fantastic images of cougars, lots of really interesting facts and a few thrilling stories,” Wild said about the upcoming engagement, which will touch on a variety of topics about the cat.
The Cougar: Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous took over three years to write and contains a wide range of modern information from experts and scientists about cougars. The book also provides first-hand stories from people who have encountered cougars and what people should do in the event that they encounter a cougar.
“In the old days they used to say you should play dead and that is definitely not true,” Wild said.
According to Wild, Vancouver Island has the highest density of cougars and the highest rate of attacks on humans in the world. When encountering a cougar it is important not to run away.
“Do not turn your back on a cougar because if you run that excites their chase and kill instinct,” Wild explained. “What you should do is ... make yourself as big and intimidating as possible.”
Due to an increasing population in rural areas as well as shifts in logging and a changing habitat, cougars are being spotted in urban settings.
“Deer are shifting their habitats and cougars are following,” Wild explained. “People don’t realize that if they’re feeding Bambi in the backyard they’re putting out a welcome mat for cougars.”
Wild speaks at the library at 249 Nanoose Rd., on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation.
For more information, please visit www.paulawild.ca.