Feb 21, 2010

Ecology of the Coyote in the Yellowstone

by Adolph Murie

When this book was written, people were still routinely controlling predators by killing them off. Coyotes had filled the gap left when wolves were gone from national parks, but they were also considered vermin and people made every effort to exterminate them as well. Murie conducted one of the very first studies of coyotes in the wild. No-one used radio collars then, so a lot of the data was painstakingly gathered. He examined the contents of their scat, remains of animals they had killed, and other signs that gave him information on population densities and a complete picture of how coyotes interacted with other species. Piecing together these signs with what he learned from directly observing coyote behavior, Murie concluded that coyotes were not decimating the numbers of prey animals (deer and elk) that men wanted to hunt themselves and in fact, were probably beneficial to their numbers. His book was pretty controversial at the time; most people didn't believe or didn't want to hear that predators were good for keeping populations of prey animals in balance and healthy. Some if it is dry reading, but I liked reading about the coyote behavior, especially how they interacted with ravens. An interesting book, if you can find it! I read this copy in the San Francisco public library quite a number of years ago; if I remember rightly it was one of those books you could request from the page desk, but not check out. I think I might have gone back a few days in a row just to finish it.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 206 pages, 1940


Amy, The Black Sheep Dances said...

I'm curious how you select your titles and find such interesting reads. I've been following your blog and your titles aren't run of the mill common stuff. This Coyote one looks especially good. I'm going to see if I can find it on Ebay or Alibris.
Enjoying your reviews.


Jeane said...

Hm. Lots of different ways! I think I found this one by looking through the bibliography of another book I really liked, to find more to read on the same topic (I was in a spate of reading about wolves and other wild canids at the time).

I do like to read a lot of books about animals, particularly wildlife.