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The Cougar, The Tick, and Human Wellbeing: The Social, Economic, and Ecological Valuations of Living with Cougars in Oregon.

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  • The overarching objective of this paper is to identify how the three tiers of human well-being (i.e., economics, ecosystems, and social) are linked to healthy landscapes and a species-rich ecosystem mediated by healthy cougar populations. Does the cougar help mitigate Oregon’s Lyme disease, chronic wasting disease (CWD), or elements of climate change? Are there risk assessments of living with, or without them? What can apex predators do for Oregonians and what could our societies look like if we protected the cougar? The goal of this paper is to raise awareness of possible benefits that co-existing with the cougar (Puma concolor) may offer, as well as potential problems that might be associated with these relationships. While the cougar is scientifically understood to represent a keystone and umbrella species, there has been little rigorous or interdisciplinary scientific inquiry evaluating the puma’s provisioning influences for human well-being. This paper will also suggest several moral and ethical missing links, social benefits, and economic valuation connections between Oregon’s cougar and human well-being. It speaks volumes that across cultural differences, humans have proclaimed at least eighty-six names upon one complex species for which we have shared the earth for thousands of years. No other animal known has received as many titles as the cougar. What could eighty-six names say about human relationships with the puma that may matter today? Out of the twenty-five North American names, the Chickasaws called cougar Koe-Ishto, Cat of God.
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