The Voice of the Coyote

The Voice of the Coyote

by J. Frank Dobie

Paperback(Second Edition)

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In The Voice of the Coyote, J. Frank Dobie melds natural history with tales and lore in articulating the complex and often contentious relationship between coyotes and humans. Based on his own life experiences in Texas and twenty-five years of research, Dobie forges a sympathetic and nuanced picture of the coyote prefiguring later environmental and conservation movements. He recognizes the impact of human action on the coyote while also examining the prominent role of the coyote in the myths and legends of the West.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803266599
Publisher: UNP - Bison Books
Publication date: 07/01/2006
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 386
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

J. Frank Dobie (1888–1964) was born in Texas, where he taught at the University of Texas. Among his many books are The Mustangs (available in a Bison Books edition) and The Longhorns. Robert Crabtree is the founder of the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center. Jennifer Sheldon is a canid biologist and author of Wild Dogs: Natural History of Non-Domestic Canidae.

Read an Excerpt

The Voice of the Coyote, Second Edition

By J. Frank Dobie

University of Nebraska Press

Copyright © 2006

University of Nebraska Press

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8032-6659-6


In J. Frank Dobie's fine and timeless work we experience the fascinating
narratives of a true naturalist, one who understands and
has deep sympathy for the natural world and the intelligence that
imbues it. When Dobie first published The Voice of the Coyote in
1947, the American West was vanishing, mythic terrain. Dobie's
stories, accompanied by Olaus Murie's transcendent illustrations,
perfectly capture this way of life, one that defined the American
West, and the nation as a whole. Read from a cultural perspective,
Dobie's text remains an important and charming document. His
tales of ranching culture, trappers, and life lived close to the land,
although perhaps harsh to modern sensibilities, remain always
vibrant and true.

Dobie was a rare man, at once highly educated and also firmly
grounded in the Texas ranching culture where he grew up. He had
one foot planted in the practical world of cattlemen and natural
history, and the other in literature and human culture. His stories
bring us to understand how once, not long ago, we lived in rather
than on top of our world. It is this ethos of belonging that runs
through Dobie's work like the light tracks of a coyote across the
landscape, traveling but also tying us tothe real. We are drawn
in, nostalgic and occasionally horrified-it is disconcerting work
to be truly immersed in the domain of the natural. Today we
live without strong connections to the ecosystems that sustain us.
Dobie and Murie lived in intimate harmony with them. But we
must not be overly nostalgic about that harmonious state, because
it required toughness-the ability to tolerate blood, suffering, and
death. The Voice of the Coyote is the best combination of literature
and natural history, the integration of the horrifying and the sublime.

From the American West of the early nineteenth century little
remains but small islands of intact ecosystems, along with the
iconic and eternal figure of the coyote: predator, scavenger, trickster,
and survivor. Dobie was fascinated by coyotes, which are, in
a way, so perfectly American. Coyotes are the avatars of adaptability,
the ultimate generalists among the carnivores.

Today, coyotes remain tremendously important ecologically.
As humans have eradicated large carnivores throughout their historic
ranges, coyotes have moved in, and they are now the largest
apex predator in approximately forty-five percent of the continental
United States, filling the role of both predator and scavenger.
Recent research has shown that predators serve a critical part in
stabilizing ecosystems, and throughout North America it is the
coyote that provides an essential component of system stability.
It is the coyote's storied adaptability, switching from one food
source to another, that equalizes predation pressures and dampens
population oscillations in other species from small mammals to
ungulates. Ecologists are beginning to understand that ecosystems
without predators are more vulnerable to degradation, and
that the roles of generalist and specialist predators alike function
to stabilize and protect these systems.


Excerpted from The Voice of the Coyote, Second Edition
by J. Frank Dobie
Copyright © 2006 by University of Nebraska Press.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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