BOOKS: The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2004:
The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature
by David Baron
W. W. Norton & Company (500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110),
2004. 277 pages, hardcover, $24.95.
This amazing book explains how wild pumas near Boulder,
Colorado came to view humans as prey. The intriguing story,
however, is only the frame that David Baron uses to painstakingly
piece together a gigantic puzzle.
When a puma killed Boulder high school student Scott
Lancaster in 1991, “everyone knew” that healthy pumas did not view
people as prey–but Lancaster’s killer proved to be both wild and
healthy. Baron explains the factors that caused this dramatic change
in puma behavior.
When wild animals came to town in the Old West, they were
shot. If they survived, they learned to avoid people.
Baron relates many sad stories about the wholesale slaughter
of predators in the United States as humans increased in population,
moved out into the wildernesss, and altered the natural landscape.
Baron tells us that author Michael Johnson labeled newcomers
to western cities “New Westers.” “Old Westers believe the West was
won. New Westers are concerned with how it was lost–or will be.”
New Westers passed laws to prevent or limit killing predators.