INTENDED FOR: Elementary - Junior High - Senior High - College - Adult
SUBJECT AREA: Science - Biology - Wildlife - Environment - Ecology
PURPOSE: To present a documentary on the life cycle of the coyote in Yellowstone National Park
REVIEW: Photographed over a ten-year period in Yellowstone’s Lamar River Valley, this film presents sequences showing coyote behavior in an environment where large mammals are abundant and human influence is minimal. Calling the howling coyote Song Dog, an Indian woman describes coyotes as sly ‘creators’ which control everything, ‘tricksters’ which make other animals give up their food. Ranging from the arctic to the tropics, the coyote usually lives in packs with it’s permanent mate and young, defending it’s territory and eating small rodents and larger weakened animals such as elk or moose. Coyote pups are observed learning about their world under constant supervision of their parents. Rare scenes show members of a coyote pack cooperating with each other to steal a bear cub away from it’s mother, a coyote getting a large fish away from an otter, coyotes chasing elk, pronghorn and bighorn sheep, trying to isolate old or weakened animals.
Marking off boundaries of their territory in which they can find food, coyotes seldom cross boundaries and hunt within their territory for grasshoppers, ground squirrels, mice and other animals using their acute senses of smell, vision and hearing to develop into finely-tuned hunters. Said to possess one of the most complex communication systems of any animal in North America, coyotes express aggression and submission, perhaps even joy and sorrow, and develop a hierarchy based on dominance. In December, with the coming of heavy snows, the elk herd migrates to Lamar Valley, providing food for coyotes as the old and weak members die. Calling the coyote tough, flexible and intelligent animals with high endurance, the Indian says it will continue to walk the earth after all other animals have vanished. This film combines excellent visuals, a well-written biologically-accurate script, appropriate music and sound effects to tell a fascinating study of an often misunderstood animal. Recommended. — Landers Film Reviews
Although the sleek, cunning, adaptable coyote is the principal predator featured in this magnificently-filmed production, glimpses of other wildlife indigenous to the lush Yellowstone Park valley setting add further dimension to this intriguing study. Backed with appropriate musical accompaniment and serious narration that includes insightful quotes from native Americans, the adept camera captures the many-faceted coyote as a frolicking pup, a voracious scavenger feasting on decayed carcass, and a crafty survivalist who catches fish and pounces on unsuspecting rodents. Amidst nature’s brilliant scenery, the coyotes’ habitat, characteristics, and specialized skills are convincingly relayed for junior high and high school students and public library viewers. Ages 14 - adult. — American Library Association