GOD'S DOG: The North American Coyote by Hope Ryden (Lyons & Burford: $14.95, illustrated)

Hope Ryden writes with great affection about the often maligned coyote; unfortunately, she doesn't write about them with great skill. This rambling account of her observations of wild coyotes near Yellowstone Park is too anecdotal to qualify as scientific research but too dry to appeal to the general reader. Ryden's complaints about the needless destruction of countless animals by poison, traps and bullets are well-documented, but the arguments lose their force when she reduces them to a question of whether an animal she "knows" will fall victim to the hunters. For more than a century, Canis latrans has survived mankind's concerted attempts to eradicate it; presumably the species will endure until a more eloquent spokesperson emerges.

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