SPARTANBURG, S.C. – When poet, essayist and Wofford College professor John Lane heard two coyotes howling and yipping behind his suburban home near Glendale, S.C., he was delighted. He reflects on that feeling in his latest book, “Coyote Settles the South.”
“I saw some promise of wildness returning to our region,” he writes. “I saw the redemption of our landscape wounded and scarred by hundreds of years of human settlement, a hope that may be hard to explain to my friends and neighbors.”
Lane’s passion for wildness drove him to investigate the coyote, which, for the past few decades, has migrated from the West into the Southeast, proliferating with startling success. In his book, Lane chronicles interviews about coyotes with naturalists, environmentalists, researchers, wildlife biologists, trappers and hunters.
On Thursday, March 23, Lane will discuss his book and the rise in coyotes in the South during the Tyson Family Lecture on the Preservation and Restoration of Southern Ecosystems. He will be accompanied by Dan Flores, author of “Coyote America,” as the two lead a talk titled “Coyote: A Conversation Between Dan Flores and John Lane about One of America’s Most Resilient Mammals.”
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. in Leonard Auditorium.
The Tyson Family Lecture on the Preservation and Restoration of Southern Ecosystems was established in 2012 by Dr. George Tyson, a 1972 Wofford graduate who graduated from Duke University School of Medicine in 1977. Under the purview of Wofford’s Department of Environmental Studies,this annual lectureship is devoted to issues related to the preservation, restoration and sustainability of Southern ecosystems. The speakers reflect the entire range of the multidisciplinary approach of environmental studies and may include individuals from academia, business, industry, government, the arts or the nonprofit sector.
“This year, rather than a single speaker, the Tyson Family Lecture will feature a dialogue on one of the most current topics in wildlife management as the urban-wilderness border becomes increasingly less distinct and the coyote becomes increasingly present in suburban and urban America,” Tyson says. “Dan Flores and Wofford’s own John Lane will discuss the increasing presence of this mezo-predator among us. Both authors are widely recognized, and Lane recently was named finalist for the Burroughs medal, the most prestigious award for writing in natural history.”
Flores, a former professor of the American West at the University of Montana at Missoula, has written 10 books – fiction and nonfiction – focused on western exploration, Native American traders and places in the American West. His “American Serengeti” is an Amazon Bestseller, and “Coyote America” is a New York Times Bestseller; both were published in 2016. “My focus has been nature writing and the ‘biographies’ of animals like bison, wolves, wild horses and especially the epic story of North America’s fascinating and now most widespread small wolf, the coyote,” Flores says.
Flores’ articles and essays on the environment, art and culture of the West have appeared in a variety of magazines, including Texas Monthly, Orion, Wild West, Southwest Art, High Country News and The Big Sky Journal, for which he wrote a column, “Images of the American West,” for eight years. His books and articles have been honored by the PEN America Literary Awards, the Western Writers of America, the High Plains Book Awards, the Montana Book Awards, the Oklahoma Book Awards, the Western History Association, the Denver Public Library, the National Cowboy Museum, the Montana Historical Society, the Texas State Historical Association and the University of Oklahoma Press.
Lane, a professor of English and environmental studies and director of the college’s Goodall Environmental Studies Center at Glendale, S.C., recently was named a finalist for the prestigious John Burroughs Medal, created in 1926 to recognize the best in nature writing. It is an unprecedented move for the Burroughs Association to formally recognize finalists for the award, to be presented in April.
He is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including six from the University of Georgia Press. “Coyote Settles the South” is his latest book from UGA. His “Abandoned Quarry: New & Selected Poems” includes much of his published poetry from over the past 30 years, plus a selection of new poems. His new book of poems, “Anthropocene Blues,” is forthcoming this year. Lane’s first novel, “Fate Moreland’s Widow,” was published by the late Pat Conroy’s Story River books in early 2015.
Lane has won numerous awards, including the 2001 Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment given by the Southern Environmental Law Center. In 2011 he won the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and in 2012 “Abandoned Quarry” won the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Alliance Poetry Book of the Year prize. As an environmentalist, Lane was named the 2013 Water Conservationist of the Year by the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and the Clean Water Champion by Upstate Forever.
In 2014, he was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Lane and his wife, Betsy Teter, co-foundered Spartanburg’s Hub City Writers Project.
Also on Thursday, March 23, at 11 a.m., John Kilgo, a 1989 Wofford graduate and a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station’s Center for Forest Watershed Research, will present a talk on “Coyote Research on the Savannah River Site.” The event will be in Room 212 of the Roger Milliken Science Center.
Kilgo is stationed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C. His research has focused on the effects of forest management and habitat restoration on various wildlife species, including songbirds, bats, deer and wild turkeys. Since 2005, he has studied the ecology of coyotes and their effects on Southeastern ecosystems, particularly deer populations, and for the past three years he also has been studying wild pigs. The program is sponsored by the Department of Biology and the Environmental Studies Program.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, a showing of the film “Red Wolf Revival,” about the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina, will be followed by a discussion by Christian Hunt from Defenders of Wildlife. The event will be held in the Olin Teaching Theater in the Franklin W. Olin Building.
All of the events are free and open to the public.