Thursday, January 21, 2010

Animal Tracking: Coyote?

Since I have been hearing Coyotes coming down near the house, stalking things in the orchard, howling, yipping, screaming - I figured there must be some kind of evidence of them having been there. Coyotes are extremely cunning animals, and I could almost swear they cover up their own tracks behind them cause I could scarcely find a shred of evidence pertaining to all the wild ruckus that I heard.
It took me a few days but I finally found a single visible track in the mud, right at the edge of a stream. This happens to be a spot where alot of deer and rabbits also come, most likely to drink. It is right under an apple tree where all the critters (including me) frequented through summer and fall to eat up all the yummy red apples.
The difficulty in identifying a coyote track is that a canine track of a near by neighbor's dog will look almost exactly like it. This particular track was alot smaller then the tracks of the neighbor's dog (which i am familiar with) - coyotes being rather small, and their paws being smaller then than a large pit bull.
Canine's can be "diagonal walkers" when stalking, which refers to the pattern in which they stride. The prints can be either close together or further apart depending on whether they are bored, idling, running or walking normal (just like human foot prints change with our emotional/physical state of motion). The prints in the melting snow below were nearby the coyote print above but too hard for me to identify - I thought it had a combo look of a diagonal walker ( stalking coyote) and a galloper (scared bunny? Squirrel?)
Lastly I found these tracks in the crunchy snow about 15 feet above the other mysterious snow tracks and thought all these little creatures are what the coyotes are looking for. Looks like a opossum! That field is a blackberry and black raspberry patch during summer, maybe they have some dried berries stashed somewhere around there. :)

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