In Alberta, the cougar (Puma concolor) is the primary species of wildcat present. A solitary and territorial animal, it is found in the province's forested and mountainous regions. With a wide range of prey, from deer to smaller mammals, the cougar's hunting prowess is unmatched, making it an essential component of Alberta's ecosystem by helping control herbivore populations.
For Indigenous communities in Alberta, the cougar has held significant spiritual and symbolic value, representing traits like strength, power, and cunning. The cougar's role in various Indigenous narratives showcases its importance in the cultural fabric of the region. European settlers arriving in Alberta brought with them different perspectives on cougars, often viewing them as threats to livestock or challenging game for hunters.
While it's essential to note that the hunting of cougars for purely culinary reasons is a controversial subject, and often regulated by strict laws, cougar meat, like that of other large predators, has been consumed historically. When prepared, cougar meat is often compared to pork in texture and flavour, albeit leaner. Historically, in situations of necessity or traditional hunting, the meat has been stewed, roasted, or ground into patties. Like all wild game, it's vital to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly to avoid pathogens.