America Cougar Mountain Lion Resting on Rock

How Indigenous collaboration is saving the cougar

From the revitalization of riverbeds to the genetic diversity of top predators, Kim Sager-Fradkin is tracking an ecological resurrection in Washington state after dams on the Elwha River came down a decade ago. The wildlife program manager for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe is paying especially close attention to the return of native plants and animals to a former reservoir that’s now dry land — as featured in Wild Hope: The Beautiful Undammed

Now making headlines are Sager-Fradkin’s studies on the cougars that roam Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. She oversees the Olympic Cougar Project in partnership with several Native American tribes. By monitoring an isolated population of cougars, the team is building a case for a highway overpass that would allow the big cat to more easily traverse fragmented forest habitat. Predator populations with robust genetic diversity are a vital ingredient for maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem.

— Wild Hope Staff