Some of the imaginable downsides of having Cougars around are simply irrational human fears. But of course, in every fear there is some reality, and that has to be considered and analyzed from a scientific perspective. The article continues:
But there are downsides to having big carnivores around. They attack livestock, pets and even people. Are cougars a net positive or negative for society?
Gilbert and her colleagues used a computer model to simulate deer survival in the U.S. East and their effect on car crashes, and then added cougars (using data from where the cats still live in the West). The researchers included the fact that cars have been getting safer over time, and collisions with deer therefore are getting cheaper. And they considered where cougars would find better habitat (such as forests in the Appalachians) and thus kill more deer.
Over the coming decades, the team calculated, the presence of cougars would result in a 22 percent decline in deer-vehicle collisions. That would result in tens of thousands of fewer human injuries, hundreds fewer human deaths and billions of dollars in savings, over half of which would go to insurance companies. “A cougar might lower your insurance premium,” Gilbert quipped.
In the end, the team went beyond just vehicle collisions with deer as a measure of the benefit that cougars could provide, and the surprising statistic they uncovered is next…