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Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,563 ratings  ·  386 reviews
The New York Times best-selling account of how coyotes--long the target of an extermination policy--spread to every corner of the United States
Finalist for the
PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
"A masterly synthesis of scientific research and personal observation." -Wall Street Journal
Legends don't come close to capturing the incredible story of the coyote
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Hardcover, 271 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Basic Books
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Carly
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you weren't aware that the American War On Coyotes has been going on for longer than Vietnam, had more casualties than the Civil War, and was even more futile than the War On Drugs, you're in for a surprise.



I must admit to a certain fondness for coyotes. When I lived in Texas, I loved hearing their howls at dusk, their shapes framed against stark treeless hills and tall houses. I think they're gorgeous creatures, as far removed from the Looney Toons Coyote as a bean sprout from a redwood. Whi
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Laura Leaney
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have to give this book five stars for the impact it had on my understanding of the human species' drive to destroy what it doesn't understand or appreciate. The book functions as both an ode to the intelligence and beauty of the coyote but also as a mournful dirge to America's deeply dysfunctional relationship to nature. It's unbelievable that the country still kills 500,000 coyotes a year, despite the awareness that such wholesale slaughter causes coyote families to produce larger and larger ...more
The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
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.
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lark benobi
To me Konrad Lorenz's essay "The Taming of the Shrew" in his collection King Solomon's Ring is a wondrous example of great field biology writing. In it, Lorenz delights in describing the behavior of the water shrew, and he does so with meticulous, loving detail, and through this tiny lens, focused on one tiny animal, I can't help but be struck with wonder about how beautiful and complicated the natural world is.

In contrast, Coyote America is filled with breathless anecdote and extends in every d
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Trish

Dan Flores has done something fascinating in this book, rehabilitating the image of a persecuted carnivore lowest on our opinion roster of animals, including cockroaches and rats. He makes the case that coyotes should be America’s national avatar, displacing the bison or buffalo. Extremely clever, adaptable, and pioneering, the coyote was designated a principal deity by American Indians--North America’s oldest deity, responsible for creating all of North America.

Flores tells us that coyotes live
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Joshua Buhs
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Coyote deserves better.

I like coyotes. I like the animals. I like the idea of them--existing by their wiles in the shadow of humans. I like the representations. Speaking of wiles, I like Wile E. Coyote. I wanted to like this book. But it just never added up.

Flores was one of the scholars to bring environmental history into the academy, though he was never as famous as William Cronon or Donald Worster. Broadly speaking, this book is an example of environmental history: how humans have thought abo
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Mikey B.
This is an interesting book on the history of the coyote – an animal unique to North America (although related to the African jackal).

The coyote, when the first Europeans arrived, was found only in the South-West of North America. Now it has spread to all parts of the continent – in spite of concerted efforts to exterminate it! From shooting, to traps, to using poisons such as strychnine, all with the support government support; the coyote has thrived in the North American landscape and now inha
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Ms.pegasus
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Numerous authors have already delved into the cultural and scientific research on the coyote, a uniquely American animal. Flores lists these works in his extensive bibliography and mentions some of them in the text of his book. In COYOTE AMERICA he documents a long history of destructive and inhumane government policies driven by that familiar triumvirate: fear, greed and hubris.

The “conquest of the west” has a familiar ring. Paired alongside it was the “war on predators.” (The metaphors roll o
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Cheryl
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not a super fast read, but short enough that I wanted a bit more. I mean, it had lots of history, biology, philosophy... but it could have used just a couple more Coyote Trickster tales. It did have plenty of statements that make me feel outraged at how much taxpayer money has been spent murdering coyotes in a futile attempt to eradicate them, when the truth is that their population would stabilize at a reasonable level if they didn't have to over-breed and over-migrate to try to find a safe pla ...more
Leo Walsh
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Coyote America is a super interesting book that examines the science, history and cultural "markers" of our American original, the coyote. They look like smaller wolves, but they're smarter. And like the author, I thought they were a southwestern/ desert animal. So I was shocked when I first saw one in Ohio in the early 90's. I spent hours pouring over field guides, and was wavering between a fox and some kind of a stray sheep dog. I finally went to a ranger, and they pulled out a picture.

I was
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Chris
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: real-world, animals
A very insightful book or should I say biography of the coyote. If there is one animal that exemplifies American exceptionalism it's the coyote. They even have their own reverse American manifest destiny. Native Americans revered it but we Christian Europeans have proceeded to kill it in the most horrific ways. And it has defied us in all our attempts and science. It's a resilient survivor who is unfortunately still under attack. The concerted attempts to extinguish it have lead to its spreading ...more
Bobby
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Forced to describe Coyote America in one phrase, I'd call it a celebration of the resiliency of the underappreciated canine that has inhabited North America far longer than Europeans. Though the book does begin with an appreciation via Native Americans, much of the book is basically a history of the coyote and the lack of appreciation of, and persecution of, the wolf's diminutive cousin. Once mankind had essentially won the battle against wolves in the lower 48 states, we turned our attention an ...more
Leftbanker
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-history
About 75 pages into this book I commented to someone that I was verging on learning way too much about coyotes and that the pace of the book was a bit clumsy and slow. There were a few too many ancient stories of the animal handed down through the ages. But then I got past this phase and before I knew it, or expected it, or wanted it, the book was wrapping up.

I hardly had a mountain bike ride in Washington state without rousing one of these little wolves from whatever the hell they were doing ou
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Clare O'Beara
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This enjoyable and easily readable book looks at the coyote, from prehistory when it split with the grey wolf line and trotted across the Bering landbridge to form the jackal tribe, to modern times when, with wolves almost extinguished, it has free rein to reproduce in almost every American state.

I learnt a lot and have to admire the resilient dog which is the target of persecution by farmers and city dwellers alike. Coyotes prey on rodents and rabbits, keeping down pests, but are considered pe
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Lara
I recently read American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West and loved it, so when I stumbled across this one I was hoping for something with just as much depth. This...didn't really have it.

I liked Flores's premise that coyotes and humans have a connection because we're so similar in so many ways; that the way they've managed to survive and thrive despite the all-out war waged against them can offer us hope in our own difficult times; that they're beneficial and inspiratio
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Mark
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Coyotes are amazing animals. I learned a lot from this book. Coyotes are also the perfect survivors. They will be here, long after we are gone.
⋟Kimari⋞
Coyote America looks at the history of coyotes and their relationship with wolves and humans. Flores provides answers to why coyotes are so wide ranging, adaptable, and comfortable in urban areas. Coyote America includes an extensive bibliography and index, which I will be perusing for further reading. I learned quite a bit, even if much of it was disturbing and disheartening. While there are no graphic descriptions, this book discusses extermination and culling; if you are sensitive, this might ...more
David Rush
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Is the coyote howl beautiful or “blood curdling”, or nothing at all? How you answer that will likely determine what you think of this book, or even if you might read it.

Maybe it is the reverse of “familiarity breeds contempt” , but my unfamiliarity with wild predators makes them all the more fascinating. However stacked against a 100 year war of eradication against coyotes (and other species) my view seems pretty irrelevant.

Part of the book is obviously about the uniqueness of the coyote, and p
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Jeanette
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
This depth for the coyote is well worth the read. And I did know before reading this that how you pronounce it (the word coyote) may relate how you feel about their permanent fixture. This holds so much of the literal, myth, history, use as a avatar for this American animal- it gets the 3 stars.

But other than that, the verbose language, the heavily judgmental balance for observation, and other asides quite apart from the natural world analysis? It's overlong. Also, IMHO, this puts the survey in
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Blake Charlton
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
a big longer than it needed to be, but a wonderful examination of the phenomenon of the modern wild.
Ashes
Coyote America will likely be of interest to anyone who wants to learn about the history of coyotes, and of American politics towards predators in general. 3.5*



Dan Flores goes through coyote evolution, taxonomic status, mythology, extermination, current politics and pop culture (he missed the music video inspired by the Light Rail Coyote, though.) He also writes about urban coyotes and coyote hybridization with wolves and dogs, and touches upon coyote behavior and ecology. Interestingly, coyote
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Jill
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019reads
Aka: how the white man needed to kill and control everything he didn’t understand. As per usual. But how the coyote was resilient as fuck anyway.

My only complaints: I wish he’d spent some more time on mythologies and native relationship to the coyote - like, what’s the coyote’s life like in Mexico? In Canada? And also: more explanation and details on their reproductive biology. He makes some statements about facts re litter size relative to local coyote population, but doesn’t explain how we kno
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Becky
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Review later, but this was one of my all-time favorite natural histories and I absolutely recommend it. Wonderful.
Tama
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love large animal biology and natural history, and I've read lots of it. Aside from wanting to quit reading the mythology parts at the start, I LOVED THIS BOOK. From the horror at the many extermination campaigns in the past present day, genetics of the coyote/wolf/red wolf, the astonishingly fast adaptability and evolution of the coyote, to the presence of the coyote in our cities today-- it all blew me away.

Five stars because the rest of the book outweighs my complaint with the mythology th
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Rita Welty Bourke
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For much of the 20th century, Americans waged all-out war against animals they thought might threaten the livestock industry, primarily wolves, foxes, buffalo, and coyotes. The goal of the ranchers and government agents was complete eradication of any species deemed undesirable. Strychnine was thrown out like candy. Kill a horse, lace the body with strychnine, wait for the wild animals to come to the feast, and watch them die.

The buffalo fell, wolves and foxes were eliminated, but the coyote li
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Richard Boyett
Jun 06, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is filled with biology and research on America's very own Prairie Wolf. It delves into the mind and psyche of this mysterious four legged creature that Americans in 49 states must call a neighbor.

But I, unlike the the author, do not chose to give this creature a big ol wet kiss and a hug. I do agree that nature is a balancing act and predators are an essential part of that balance but I no more want coyotes living on my yard than I do rattlesnakes or Nile Crocodiles.

I know of two d
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Kathryn Kochunas
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't think any Native people were consulted while writing this. Too often Native beliefs and folklore as recorded by white men decades ago was leaned on heavily to construct the "mystic" heritage of the coyote. The colonial and late aspects of white man's relationship with the coyote was enjoyable and well researched, but every so often a ham-handed clunker would disrupt the rhythm. A lot of times Americans was used to mean white people in America. I think this book would have benefited from ...more
Amanda
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a decent read that reinforced a lot of things I had heard about coyotes or had previously learned about the evolution of wildlife management; the frustrating thing is that even though we know better (through good science), people still hold ridiculous beliefs about how to “manage” predators and the environment. It was definitely a frustrating read at times because people can be so difficult to educate, but it made me want to learn more about predator-friendly ranching, and the stuff I l ...more
Katey
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
While reading this book, a quote from Albert Schweitzer kept ringing inside my head: "Man is a clever animal who behaves like an imbecile."

Coyote though, is a clever animal who behaves- well, like a clever animal.

I may have been expecting more about coyote biology and behaviour (which this book has plenty of), but what I got is yet another facet of the bloody history of that old, gnarly chestnut called Manifest Destiny. Anger was a common emotion for me over all the ways coyotes have been unduly
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David Gamble
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book because I've been developing a trust between me and the local coyotes for awhile and realized they were a lot like my Irish-American family. I thought they had a lot to teach us about 'being American' and wanted to understand more. This book delivered!

I came to the book with a deepening understanding of how my family's heritage of surviving the second longest genocide in history shaped our behavior and thinking. Reading the portions about how the coyote has also been shape
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The Well-Read Out...: June 2016 - Coyote America 2 7 Jan 06, 2017 06:54AM  

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Dan L. Flores is an American historian who specializes in cultural and environmental studies of the American West. He holds the A.B. Hammond Chair in Western History at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Flores is the author of eight books, including: Horizontal Yellow: Nature and History in the Near Southwest (1999); The Natural West: Environmental History in the Great Plains and Rock
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“If one’s argument for civilization holds that wild predators should never roam in broad daylight through the boroughs of America’s largest, loudest, most radically urban metropolis, then, truly, the end of civilization had arrived on paw prints in the snow.” 1 likes
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