Coyote Tracks

Finding animal tracks while out exploring is fun and exciting! How can you tell who’s tracks you are looking at? Coyote tracks are similar in size to those of a young mountain lion, if not slightly smaller. However, there are key differences for telling them apart.

On average, a coyote track is 2.5 – 3.5 inches long, with the front foot being slightly larger than the hind foot. Distinct claw marks are usually visible and the toe pads are more oval-shaped, whereas a mountain lion’s toe pads are tear-dropped. The heel pad is relatively triangular in shape and only has two lobes on the back edge. The front edge of the heel pad is rounded instead of having a divot like on a mountain lion pad. Coyote tracks are also much more narrow than a mountain lion’s track!

The next time you’re out on the trails, keep an eye out for signs of wildlife. Keep in mind that what you think may be a coyote track, could actually be that of a domestic dog. Dog tracks are generally less symmetrical and have more blunt claw marks. It takes keen observation to identify animals by their tracks. Challenge yourself to see if you can identify coyote tracks!

Tip: Be sure to bring a ruler, a field guide, and a field notebook with you so you can measure and record your find! 

Jessica Whalen

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