Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia

Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia

by Stephen DeStefano


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A moose frustrates commuters by wandering onto the highway; a cougar stalks his prey through suburban backyards; an alligator suns himself in a strip mall parking lot. Such stories, which regularly make headline news, highlight the blurred divide that now exists between civilization and wilderness.

In Coyote at the Kitchen Door, Stephen DeStefano draws on decades of experience as a biologist and conservationist to examine the interplay between urban sprawl and wayward wildlife. As he explores what our insatiable appetite for real estate means for the health and wellbeing of animals and ourselves, he highlights growing concerns, such as the loss of darkness at night because of light pollution. DeStefano writes movingly about the contrasts between constructed and natural environments and about the sometimes cherished, sometimes feared place that nature holds in our modern lives, as we cluster into cities yet show an increasing interest in the natural world.

Woven throughout the book is the story of one of the most successful species in North America: the coyote. Once restricted to the prairies of the West, this adaptable animal now inhabits most of North America--urban and wild alike. DeStefano traces a female coyote's movements along a winding path between landscapes in which her species learned to survive and flourish. Coyote at the Kitchen Door asks us to rethink the meaning of progress and create a new suburban wildlife ethic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674060180
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 05/15/2011
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Stephen DeStefano is Research Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Unit Leader of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Prologue: Suburban Beginnings

  1. The World's Neighborhoods
  2. The Form Setter
  3. Gradient in Time: A Brief History of Wildlife in America
  4. Suburban Wildlife Encounters
  5. Mixed Messages
  6. The Suburban Jungle
  7. A Trilogy of Tolerable Nuisances: Part I—Traffic
  8. A Trilogy of Tolerable Nuisances: Parts II and III—Light and Noise
  9. Home Ownership and Other Near-death Experiences
  10. Living with People and Wildlife in Suburbia: A Short Story about a Small Moose
  11. Coyote Spirits
  12. A Suburban Land Ethic

  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Richard M. DeGraaf

At home in town as well as in the wild, DeStefano gives a lively and insightful, deeply personal account of the tensions between the two as development encroaches relentlessly on the natural world. Nature is what we make it, and has been for a long time. It's just that the stakes are higher now for us and for wild life. Meanwhile, the coyote--unaware of our misgivings about what we have wrought--goes about the business of surviving in the suburban landscape.

Richard M. DeGraaf, Chief Research Wildlife Biologist (Emeritus), U. S. Forest Service

Richard L. Knight

This is a delightful book. DeStefano takes you on an intimate journey across town and through back yards, discovering and enjoying our wild suburban neighbors. Since most of us live in suburbs, it's probably time we got to know them better. When such exciting entertainment is so close, why not enjoy!
Richard L. Knight, Professor of Wildlife Conservation, Colorado State University

Guy R. McPherson

Through the lens of a thoughtful human, the suburbs represent a tragic misallocation of resources. But through the lens of coyote, suburbia is just another place to thrive on a planet transformed by humanity. As DeStefano describes in witty, factual, down-to-earth prose, the trickster feasts on our accidental treats, constantly letting us know that, if we are to live with the coyote at the kitchen door, it will be on her terms, not ours.

Guy R. McPherson, Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona School of Natural Resources & the Environment and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

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