Paws and Footprints

2012-12-20 (1)This is the best photo I’ve ever taken of four coyote paw pads! Here’s a post on them.

coyote paw prints

coyote paw prints

dog paw prints

dog paw prints

These are schematics showing the difference between coyote and dog paw prints. In theory these are correct. I have seen coyote tracks which look elongated as in the drawing. The photo of the coyote pouncing reveals a compact and oblong pad structure with claws pointing somewhat inwards, as in the drawing. And I have seen dog tracks which look roundish, with the claws splayed outwardly. But real footprints left on the ground are not always so clearly distinguished. The reason is that coyote pads and dog pads spread out on various surfaces.

Today I watched a coyote make these footprints on a wooden stair in the photograph below, so I know they are coyote paw prints.  Yet look at them: they look more like the drawing of the dog’s print.

coyote paw prints

coyote paw prints

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 04:44:08

    That is one amazing photo! So, the coyote print is “tighter” and the dog print is more splayed, could we say?


  2. webmaster - savesutro
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 08:37:42

    Great post. I’ve often wondered if it’s possible to tell coyote paw prints from dog tracks. Now I know.


  3. Barbara Knupp
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 21:03:02

    Very timely post as many of us have snow at the moment. Thank you! Also great photo. I’ve watched coyotes hunt mice in the fields – watch, listen, then pounce.

    I had wondered where the coyotes had gone as my game cameras now photographed rabbits on the paths previously traveled by coyotes. Then after the first snow, I found lots of coyote tracks but on a different part of the farm. Isn’t this mating season? I suspect the coyotes have changed their trek now that crops in which they hunted mice and rabbits are gone. The coyotes seem to cross the farm trekking between two wooded areas. The coyote presence on their usual path seemed to decrease during deer rut but maybe that’s coincidental. A couple of large bucks (10 and 14 point bucks) also used the path but I can’t image it would matter much to a coyote. One buck attacked my game camera! Also, a bob cat seems to have increased its presence on the farm. I wonder what (if any) impact that may have on the coyotes.


    • yipps
      Dec 31, 2012 @ 05:58:53

      Hi Barbara —

      Nice hearing your updates!

      The buck attacking the game camera must have produced some very good photos for you — I would love to see them! Yes, it’s mating season. I’ve been told that coyotes can be seen more often, and they howl more during this time. In my area, the opposite seems to be true! However, I did find one exploring much further afield than normal and I attributed that to the increased hormones.

      I, too, have noticed that trekking patterns go in waves which follow where food is most abundant.

      I don’t know what effect the deer have on your coyotes. It would be great if your trap camera were to capture some clues about this. I think that bob cats and coyotes are about the same size, so they may compete for the same resources and therefore dislike each other.

  4. Barbara Knupp
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 21:47:21

    The coyotes do seem less vocal lately. Coyotes and other wildlife were active from early Spring until late Fall on the tractor path that runs the length of the farm. The path separates a field in the conservation reserve program (CRP) from our soybean field. A coyote seemed to trek on this path most evenings through Summer. As the corn grew, coyote interest seemed to turn to the nearby corn field where mice and rabbits abound. In October, I would get poor photos that seemed to be of a pair of coyotes hunting mice in the harvested soybean field. On October 28, photos show a young buck at 1:27 am, a coyote at 3:29 am, and a bob cat at 5:51 am – all on the same path just different times.. The last photo of a coyote from that camera was on 11/24. Now, I find no sign of coyotes except for foot prints else where on the farm.

    I found an interesting article on bob cat-coyote interaction – It seems to fit with one of my observations. There is a thick wooded patch at the back of our farm – 20 feet from our corn field. It seems to be a favorite with deer. The coyotes seeme to have little interest in it. On several occasions, I watched a coyote trot through the open hay field parallel to the wood to reach the corn field. I suspect the hay field – while providing less cover – offers easier manuverability than the thick cover. Recently, the bob cat has found the same wood of interest. It appears to be a large adult – comparable in size to the coyote. I suspect neither would want a confrontation. According to the article, the coyote is the more successful species.

    Oh as to the deer attacking the game camera, there are no good photos. I checked the camera in the evening and it was attached as usual to the same tree over 4 feet from the ground. The next morning, I found it flipped up, turned to face the tree, with scratches and dents on the cover. There was a photo of a large buck and then a white flash. Nothing more. Quite disappointing but I do believe the buck disliked the flash and took aim.

    I backed the car out of the garage recently to find a chunk of deer flesh in the driveway! Probablly our farm dog slipped away and found it but surprising she would just leave it. Less likely, I disturbed a coyote carrying the prize. Later my husband found deer remains in the hay field. Did coyotes take down a deer?

    Thanks again for all of the info you – along with Charles – provide. It is really a service to us who find ourselves sharing our land with these fascinating canids. I’ve learned so much and there is so much more to learn.


    • yipps
      Jan 01, 2013 @ 05:09:39

      Hi Barbara —

      I love hearing about your farm, and all the wildlife you see there. The carnivoraforum is fascinating and very detailed! Thank you for sending that link. I never have thought about competition for resources in terms of “exploitation” vs. “interference” — it opens one’s thinking about the nuances of what might be going on. After reading through this, I now know that the advantage, no matter how slight, belongs to the coyotes.

      As for the deer, it is very possible for two coyotes working together to take one down. But I also know that coyotes will find carrion in the form of road kill — so you may never know how that deer died.

  5. Aubrianna Davis
    Mar 02, 2015 @ 09:32:37

    Saw these paw print outside my clients house a couple days ago. How do I share a picture on here so I can show you guys? I kid you not these prints are bigger my palm and I can’t figure out what they are.


    • yipps
      Mar 02, 2015 @ 13:41:23

      You are welcome to send the photos to coyotecoexistence (at) gmail (dot) com. They’ll try to identify the footprint for you.

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