In Memoriam

We dedicate this space with gratitude to beloved supporters and collaborators who have made an indelible mark on our work to create a world where humans and wildlife can coexist.

Celebrating the Life and Work of
Noted Predator Ecologist, John Laundré, Ph.D.

Photo of John Laundre with baby cougars

We are grieving the death of our dear friend, John Laundré, Ph.D., pictured above in the early 1990s with two baby cougars (and below with a jaguar). A brave and gifted scientist, Laundré passed away March 5, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his beloved daughter Cecile at his side. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends, students, and colleagues as we collectively process this huge loss.

Laundré made groundbreaking contributions to predator ecology, including the landmark concept of "The Landscape of Fear," which addressed the ecological implications of being afraid and proposed that the prey’s fear of predators is important in maintaining ecosystem integrity.  

A Wisconsin native, Laundré worked as a large mammal predator-prey conservation biologist for over 30 years in the western U.S. and northern Mexico. He published over 70 scientific articles, authored the book Phantoms of the Prairie: The Return of Cougars to the Midwest, and wrote frequently on America's mismanagement of carnivores. Laundré served as Vice-President of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation and Asstistant Director of the James San Jacinto Mountains Natural Reserve at the Unviersity of California Riverside. 

We were very grateful to benefit from Laundré's expertise as a member of our Scientific Advisory Board. Sadly, at the time of his passing, he was working on one of our most-prized long-term projects--a comprehensive indictment of state wildlife agencies, aka The Killing Agencies.  We will try to take the baton he passed and run with it, but running the race without him feels daunting.   

John Laundré was brilliant, inspirational and laser-focused.  He is utterly irreplaceable.

We will publish a link to Laundré's' obituary when one becomes available. In the meantime, we want to share the tributes pouring in from highly respected scientists.  Their respect for Laundré's work is immense and paints a vivid portrait of his life and legacy.

Photo of John Laundre with jaguar

Esteemed Scientists and Activists Honor Dr. Laundré's Life and Legacy with Special Tributes

"Soft-spoken and incredibly intellectual, yet fierce, Dr. John Laundré was that rare breed of researcher who put animals and their conservation before his own career. Unlike most scientists, John never wavered from being an advocate for the wildlife, especially large carnivores, as well as their dedicated researcher and chronicler. The world of Ecology is poorer today with the passing of this giant."

- Jay Tischendorf DVM, Founder and Director, American Ecological Research Institute (—AERIE)

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"I loved John. He was a good friend, an inspiration, and an endearing person. He made the case for all life, always advocating for the protection and recovery of nature, relentlessly working toward the fair distribution of environments not only of people, but also nonhuman nature in all its abundance and diversity. Especially close to his heart and an undeniable part of John’s concern for the natural world were his much-loved cougars. We will all miss John, but I think none more so than the cougars he did so much for."

- Paul C. Paquet, Ph.D., Large Carnivore Conservation Biologist, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Canada

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"John was a colleague and kindred-spirit ecologist who was unique in many ways. First he was a pioneer Ph.D academic who did it on his own with little support from a university. He found his drive from within. He was a one-man army and believed in his own independence and the independence of his quality science. It contributed so much to not only the science of ecology but large carnivore conservation. He helped pioneer the understanding of the important role that low density, fragile, large carnivore populations make in keeping the ecosystems that we rely upon, healthy." 

  - Robert L. Crabtree, Ph.D., Chief Scientist and Executive Director,
Yellowstone Ecological Research Center

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"Dr. John Laundré was a prolific and internationally recognized predator/prey scientist. Much of his work centered on pumas and how predation risk influened prey behavior. He developed the concept of "the landscape of fear." He was also an avid conservationist and was not afraid to speak truth to power regardless of the cost to himself. He was a scientific hero to me and my grad students." 

- Robert Wielgus Ph.D., Large carnivore expert, Former Director, Large Carnivore Conservation Laboratory, WSU

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"As Vice President of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation (CRF), John Laundré published the jaw-dropping potential for a peer-reviewed recovery of pumas to the mighty Adirondacks, and collaborated on a national puma recovery plan, on an Adirondack megafauna rewilding, and on how to equitably restructure state wildlife funding papers, demonstrating the depth and breadth of his commitment to life's rich pageant. John was that most endangered of beasts, a prescient, world-class biologist unafraid to fight tooth and claw for the wildlife he loved, a quiet giant of ecology on whose shoulders any number of marquee researchers made their fame. John Laundré is irreplaceable." Read full-length memorial

- Christopher Spatz, former president, Cougar Rewilding Foundation

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"John was a journalist’s dream. He was the rare scientist who wasn’t afraid to voice the essential truths of his findings in the common man’s language of awe and outrage. His decades afield with apex predators unveiled them as vital cogs in the machinery of life, and as magnificent and worthy creatures in their own right. His assessments of their organized killers unveiled them as shameless hypocrites to be hounded at every turn. It would be tragic to remember John so simply as a biologist who studied and defended our great predators. It would be just to remember John as a humanitarian who courageously honored the beauty of the beasts with whom we so fortunately share this Earth." 

Will Stolzenburg, journalist, author of "Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat's Walk Across America"

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"I'm so sorry to learn of John's passing. John was a good man with impeccable integrity and always there when I needed some guidance. Blessings and love to his family and friends." 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, UC Boulder

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"John Laundré was a rare scientist, combining rigor with a passionate caring for the creatures he studied and their homes. At a time when many are distracted by human self-absorption, John kept his eyes on the prize: saving and recovering wildlife and places. He will be greatly missed by friends and colleagues, but perhaps most by the cougars, on whose behalf he worked tirelessly. They may not know what they owe to him, but they will feel the consequences of his loss. It’s up to the rest of us to ensure what John sought for them is realized."

- David Johns, J.D., colleague and friend

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“John spoke out bravely for predators and for strong science. I had the great pleasure of writing an op-ed with him about grizzly bear conservation. Given these sad news, I regret that I waited so long to reach out to collaborate with him.”

- Adrian Treves, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison, founder of Carnivore Coexistence Lab

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"Although I’d never met John, I got to know him through his excellent writings. I admired his ecological knowledge and decisive stance on the need to protect wild animals. John had expansive scientific knowledge about how the world works and the crucially important role of wildlife, especially of predators. He was a compassionate, courageous scientist, and never afraid to express outrage over the US agencies’ mismanagement of wild animals. He was a conservationist, who showed his humanity, compassion and courage by pointing out that ‘sportsman’ does not equal conservation/preservation. He was a conservationist, who spoke from the heart, something we need more of. John will be greatly missed."

- Anja Heister, Ph.D. co-founder of Footloose Montana, for trap-free public lands

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"John was a great biologist, but one with the heart of a naturalist. He cared about the wildlife he studied and wasn't shy about expressing his love."

- George Wuerthner, M.S., ecologist, author, photographer and wildlands activist

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"John Laundré was not only kind and brilliant, he was brave. He spoke his mind and used his credibility to fight for fairness in a flawed system inherently designed to perpetuate persecution and killing of the wildlife he loved. May he rest in peace."

Sally Mackler, Native Carnivore Advocate, Predator Defense

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