BOOKS: Track of the Coyote

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, August/September 1996:

Track of the Coyote
by Todd Wilkinson
with photos by Michael H. Francis
NorthWord Press Inc.
(POB 1360, Minocqua, WI 54548),
1995. 140 pages; $14.95, paperback.

The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour
gets just one thing about coyotes right: someone
is always gunning for them. Todd
Wilkinson’s Track of the Coyote draws heavily
upon biologist Robert Crabtree’s recent
five-year study of the coyotes of the Lamar
Valley in Yellowstone National Park, now
extirpated by the reintroduction of wolves.

No matter how much may applaud the return of
wolves to their native habitat, one cannot help
but mourn the coyotes, too, an older, more
intelligent species, inclined to treat one another
with much greater charity than anyone
shows toward them. Exquisitely illustrated by
photographer Michael H. Francis, Track of
the Coyote is itself coyote-like in avoiding
territory previously marked by The World of
The Coyote, Wayne Grady’s 1994 coffeetable
volume from Sierra Club Books. While
Grady focused on predation issues, Wilkinson
zeroes in on other behavior––and pays respect
to the diversity of character among coyotes,
who broadly observe universal rules while
improvising to suit circumstance to a greater
degree than almost any other animal. There is
“knowing” coyotes, and then there is “knowing
a coyote,” like #570, whom Crabtree and
Wilkinson follow through the last years of her
12-year life.

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