Neat feet betray coyote


Dog prints at top of picture, coyote prints at bottom.

Dog prints at top of picture, coyote prints at bottom.

We had a visitor come through the yard last night. There are three sets of tracks in this picture – my two dogs and either a fox or a coyote. How can I tell that it wasn’t another dog?
My dog’s tracks are at the top of the picture. There are a lot of them, four to a step, and they are messy. My old girl and my low-slung corgi didn’t pick up their feet.
Now look at the tracks at the bottom of the picture. Two neat imprints per stride. Wild canines like wolves, coyotes and foxes all make sure to put their hind feet in the prints made by their forefeet. Based on how far apart the prints are, my guess is that this was a coyote, but I don’t really know.
I’ve heard that wild canines step in their own tracks to minimize their scent trail. I don’t know if I believe that. It seems that the doubled-up prints would have twice the scent. And why would it matter? For the most part, wild canines are the hunters, not the hunted, following others trails, not being followed. If this was to minimize their scent, wouldn’t prey species be noted for it, too?
Regardless of my lack of understanding of why the do it, the wild canines are very neat walkers. And their minimalist tracks alerted me to their presence in the neighborhood.

About coloradogeography

Amy Law is a second-generation Coloradoan with a passion for her native state. This translated into a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Colorado State University, and continues as a lifelong fascination with how people and nature interact. From family vacations in the station wagon to travel for work, she's covered the state, and everywhere she goes, she finds new things to see and ideas to explore.
This entry was posted in Colorado Mileposts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s