Ghost Walker: Tracking a Mountain Lion’s Soul Through Science and Story is a book by Leslie Patten, an established landscape designer from California with a background in horticulture and botany. A citizen scientist and trained naturalist, Leslie has also assisted with wildlife studies and authored multiple books including the most recent Ghost Walker where she draws on her personal experiences and quest to understand mountain lions better. The book includes scientific research, history, myths as well interviews with biologists, trackers, hunters and conservationists.
Sparked by a set of paw prints in the snow one morning while hiking with her dog Leslie sets out to answer the question: “What does it feel like to be a mountain lion?”. These tracks lead her, and the reader, on a physical and spiritual journey to understand how mountain lions live and struggle to survive in a world that is full of natural and man made threats. For those who are new to mountain lion conservation, or have a general interest in the species, the book is interesting and accessible while providing a background on the cats history and current status in the western states. It will also introduce you to the key players and research that is shaping mountain lion conservation. If you already have a good knowledge and passion for these animals consider the book a welcome addition to your reading list.
Mountain lion conservation is still riddled with challenges and contradictions and, in many places it is almost non-existent although views and policies are slowly improving as we have seen in California. Ghost Walker examines many of the factors that continue to influence our relationship with these highly misunderstood cats and it tells us that it will take a collective effort to ensure their long term survival. Including the non-consumptive public, who have historically been shut out of the decision making process, in decisions that impact these cats will be an important place to start. Change and reform for the better can happen, we simply have to want it bad enough.
Despite the onslaught they have suffered at our hands mountain lions have demonstrated they are willing to adapt and coexist. Are we now willing to do the same?
Ghost Walker: Tracking a Mountain Lion’s Soul Through Science and Story is available for purchase on Amazon. To read about the stories that did not make it into the book be sure to follow Leslie’s blog The Human Footprint.