Wednesday, August 1, 2001
Lions on the Loose
As a survivor of a mountain lion attack, I have more than a passing interest in these cats ["Is That a Mountain Lion in Your Backyard?" June]. In the distant past, mountain lions were actively trapped for their fur and shot at by anyone carrying a gun during any time of the year. But in Montana these days, mountain lion hunting is very restricted. As a result, very few cats are killed or even shot. Lack of hunting is the major reason for the increase in the number and boldness of mountain lions.

Gerald Geiszler, M.D.
Great Falls, Montana

Editor's note: According to Harry Whitney of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, 600 to 700 mountain lions are killed every season in Montana; he doesn't think that qualifies as "very few." Moreover, population oscillations depend on more than just hunting, such as the amount of available prey like deer, says Whitney.

I was shocked at Gordon Grice's article on mountain lions. Are we, as a society, still under the ridiculous misconception that ranch livestock is more valuable than an efficient hunter? It has been proven over and over that predators are essential to a healthy ecosystem. I suppose if some ranchers and hunters have their way, the only big cats left on Earth will be the stuffed ones . . . just like the one Richard Ross used in his photographs. Does he think we're stupid? All four photos of the vicious beast stalking its prey were of the same stuffed lion!

Susan Schneider
Toledo, Ohio

It's Only Natural
Is there not drama enough in the mere existence of the "ice man" [R&D;, June]? Why must the finding of pollen in his digestive tract lead to suspicions of foul play? Spring and early summer snowstorms with periods of freeze and thaw are common in higher elevations. Is it not more likely that Ötzi succumbed to exposure after being caught in a spring blizzard that then melted, filling his refuge with water for a period before freezing for 5,000 years?

Richard Boggs
Seattle, Washington

Hop on the bus, Gus
Congratulations for considering environmentally and socially responsible solutions to traffic problems in "Go Slower, Get There Faster" [June]. However, the article does not address such issues as whether drivers are alone in their vehicles and at what point mass transit becomes faster and more cost effective. Surely effort would be better spent designing reliable, flexible, and comprehensive public transportation systems and encouraging motorists to use them. If "the whole country is stuck in traffic," let's adopt an altered slogan: "Go together, get there faster."

David Mitchell
Edmonton, Alberta

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Wishful Thinking
James Martin may know all there is to know about technology ["Computers Will Save Us," June], but he sure doesn't know much about human nature or history. Martin says, "We've got the technology to make whatever we wish for." Let's see your technology restore the Amazon or remove the pollution from the oceans. Martin says that humans have always been able to "suppress the bad effects of technology and exploit the good." Balderdash! An unbiased examination of the history of any "civilized" culture will expose the lie in that statement. From the invention of sails to the splitting of the atom, technological advances have benefited the few at the expense of the rest, including the nonhuman life that shares this planet with us.

Reginald Clarke
Combs, Arkansas

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Pioneer Pride
The editors of Discover must have been asleep at the remote if they think that Frontier House is something new [Reviews, May]. Canada was there first with Pioneer Quest (pioneer.history.ca/splash.cfm). The American version sounds too easy: The new settlers will have to survive only six months on the frontier. In Pioneer Quest, two couples have survived one year through the wettest summer, the driest fall, and the coldest winter on record.

Dave Smith
Water Valley, Alberta

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Physicist Niels Bohr's name was misspelled in June's R&D.; Also, the sculpture pictured with Milford Wolpoff (page 16) was created by Karen Harvey.

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