Doubting Thomases and the Cougar: The Perceptions of Puma Management in Northern Ontario, Canada



The purpose of this discussion is to provide a better understanding of the conflicting perceptions regarding cougar (Puma concolor) management in northern Ontario, Canada. Despite two alleged puma attacks, numerous cougar sightings throughout the region and the recent confirmation of the puma's existence in Ontario through DNA analysis, the existence of these animals in the north-east of Canada and the USA remains largely contentious. Findings derived from interviews conducted in northern Ontario and content analysis of media sources in Canada and the USA suggest that the ongoing debate over the existence of pumas in this region of Canada can be attributed to current wildlife management largely predicated on the grand narrative of the wildlife expert. This centralised, bureaucratic approach decreases the opportunity for constructive dialogue between stakeholders and mitigates the implementation of community-based wildlife management approaches. While this analysis largely focuses in Ontario, Canada, the debate provides insights into the human dimensions of wildlife management, especially elusive wildlife, in North America and elsewhere.