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Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,678 ratings  ·  286 reviews
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 In the face of centuries of campaigns of annihilation employing gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn't just survive, they t
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Basic Books
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,678 ratings  ·  286 reviews

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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
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.
Lark Benobi
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, nonfiction
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

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 Filipas
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
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
Rich 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
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
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
Rebekah 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
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nature, audio
Dan Flores waxes rhapsodic about coyotes, delving into the name, history, man's interactions with coyotes, and how humans have created the conditions that have allowed the spread of the coyote population eastward across the whole country. While all of this was interesting, he also strays a bit too far from science for me. He uses folklore, mythology, and anthropology to point out how humans and coyotes share many characteristics, like adaptability and intelligence, (which I think they do, but I ...more
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first NF audiobook! For the most part I was thrilled learning about coyotes. Topics include Indigenous Americans' relationship & stories about Coyote. Colonizers' relationship. Their natural history. Relationship to other animals, particularly other canids. Correlations between them and humans as successful species. Control methods. The biggest idea I am left with is realizing how unbelievably determined European Americans have been to kill off entire species based on little evidence. Coy ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it

Oy. Where to begin?

I think the manner in which we have treated coyotes is a pretty decent demonstration of the immoral disregard we have had for our native land. The mass killing of predators in this country is a blight on our collective soul. To think we are God, and believe ourselves capable and privileged enough to interfere with the natural world to benefit our own bottom line is inconceivably naïve and wildly reprehensible.

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century h

Ben Vogel
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dan Flores has written a love story to a native American creature so unloved and persecuted by the settlers of this land, yet so resilient that it thrives among us like few others. It is likely that anything you think you know about coyotes (and wolves) will be challenged by this book, as scientists are only now admitting to some of their own misconceptions about this extraordinary canid. Flores is a good writer, and I now really look forward to reading American Serengeti, which has been too lon ...more
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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
“So think of the American Great Plains as one more reminder that we can find home again.” 0 likes
“Resolving those questions—determining the essential character of the coyote—would take the entire second half of the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth. We’re still trying to figure out what we think about them even now. At” 0 likes
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