BOBCAT YEAR by Hope Ryden


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For this photo-illustrated, fictionalized animal biography, Ryden assimilates her extensive observation of wild and captive bobcats with a thorough knowledge of the literature on cats and bobcats. The result is a narrative of exceptional vitality, full of individual situations and reactions that lift this above the ""typical"" composite yet illustrate behavior patterns common to the species. From a birth that has its own unique course and individual drama, Ryden follows a male kitten through his months of dependence--first on his mother and then, after he is swept downstream and stranded outside her territory, on the older female (his grandmother, though neither is aware of that) who finds and rescues him. The bobcat's slow education in hunting is seen as a learning process necessary for assembling his disparate inborn actions into purposeful sequences in appropriate circumstances. Ryden also shows us, in an awesome demonstration of nature's dictates, his mother's violent and extended mating session with a male from outside her territory. She informs us through the female bobcats' behavior of the species' territorial behavior and the survival advantages of mutual avoidance--an adaptation most unlike that of the social wolves, for example. She points up the interdependence of other animal populations in the area--and the bobcats' dependence on their fluctuations during a harsh winter; and she deplores with feeling the ""organized carnage"" of livestock growers, trophy and hide hunters, and the wildlife managers who are essentially in their service. Through all this her conviction, intelligent eye, and ability to integrate drama and data are impressive.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1981
Publisher: Viking