Published by Basic Books on June 7th 2016
With its uncanny night howls, unrivaled ingenuity, and amazing resilience, the coyote is the stuff of legends. In Indian folktales it often appears as a deceptive trickster or a sly genius. But legends don’t come close to capturing the incredible survival story of the coyote. As soon as Americans—especially white Americans—began ranching and herding in the West, they began working to destroy the coyote. Despite campaigns of annihilation employing poisons, gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn’t just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York’s Central Park. In the war between humans and coyotes, coyotes have won hands-down.
Coyote America is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the coyote. It traces both the five-million-year-long biological story of an animal that has become the “wolf” in our backyards, as well as its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse, with a pioneering hero whose career holds up an uncanny mirror to the successes and failures of American expansionism.
An illuminating biography of this extraordinary animal, Coyote America isn’t just the story of an animal’s survival—it is one of the great epics of our time.
Dan Flores writes in Coyote America “I have borne witness to certain truth about coyotes as neighbors: you do not see them as much as hear them.” I live in an area where there is a large coyote population, I hardly ever see a coyote but I hear them all the time.
Dan Flores has written a richly detailed look at the America conservation movement and its attitude toward the coyote for the last century and half. A native of North America, the coyote has a rich history, which today continues to grow.
The coyote is a fascinating creature it’s ability to adapt and survive has spanned 10,000 years and made it a true American icon. When the first White people arrived in America they did not know what to make of this “prairie wolf” but they did sense a threat, I had no idea that the government has waged a century old battle for the eradication of the coyote.
Early on the National Park Service was devising methods to eradicate wolves, mountain loins and coyotes. It was all out warfare – they shot and poisoned these animals without regard. They murdered these animals in the thousands.
Once again you run into what I feel is a continuing theme in present day American life. Is what we are doing the best for all of us or are we catering to the few? I feel this book shows that once again we have lost our way, we are continuing to do what we always have and it’s not really working. Is there away we can co-exist with nature and the other inhabitants of this planet?