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Dog (coyote) tracks VS. Cat (cougar) tracks???

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  • Dog (coyote) tracks VS. Cat (cougar) tracks???

    Anyone on here good with animal tracks? I found some yesterday that I would like to try to identify. It is either a domestic dog, a huge coyote or a cougar.

    What are the main ways to distinguish between cat and dog?

    There was a large black cat (100+ lbs) spotted in the area last week and I am wondering if it was him/her. We called in a cougar about 3 years ago while hunting in the same area so it's very possible it's a cat.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I don't think cougars come in black, and while possible, it seems unlikely a black jaguar managed to make it up to Texas. I have had people "call in" reports of a "black panther" after sightings of my black great dane out in the woods. He also leaves huge cat-like prints due to the shape of his feet.

    Comment


    • #3
      We have Florida panthers in GA.
      We also have black cats who are not domestic, and are called panthers here.

      Coyote tracks will show the "fingernails" as their claws are not retractable. Their prints/tracks are not as big or round as a cougar/puma.

      Cat tracks will show pad marks. (Ocelots don't have retractable claws, but they are too small to insure horses when they are turned loose by owners.) The tracks/prints will be rounder and bigger than a coyote's tracks. If it is a really huge track with claw marks it's a bear.

      I have to try to remember all the "Outdoor Life" backpage animal tracking footprints.

      Call your local DNR office and ask for a DNR officer to come out and look. He/she is a public servant who will gladly come out and tell you what species of animal is on your property. you pay his/her salary, so use the services.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mlranchtx View Post
        Anyone on here good with animal tracks? I found some yesterday that I would like to try to identify. It is either a domestic dog, a huge coyote or a cougar.

        What are the main ways to distinguish between cat and dog?

        There was a large black cat (100+ lbs) spotted in the area last week and I am wondering if it was him/her. We called in a cougar about 3 years ago while hunting in the same area so it's very possible it's a cat.

        Thanks!
        When looking at Dog and Cat tracks in mud or snow, the dog track will show toe nails always. The Cat will be ovel in shape and show no claw marks.

        Comment


        • #5
          Yep, what Donna and cloudyandcallie said (I have been a hunter and tracker since I was a kid - my dad was a trapper up in Maine and taught me to track as a child).

          Strangely enough, I was talking to a game warden here in Florida about big cat encroachment the other day, and he mentioned that there have been more Jaguar sightings in Texas lately, although they were unconfirmed. They may be expanding their range. Florida, by the way, does have a panther population outside the everglades, although it is "unofficial." I've seen panthers in Tosohatchee state park, and found deer kills with panther tracks (and I know the difference between a panther kill and a bobcat scavenge on a hunter kill, btw, although Florida has BIG bobcats ) I was hunting in there many years ago and had one growl at me from up in a tree - scariest thing I've ever seen, but I still trail ride in there, as I believe that they are VERY rare.

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          • #6
            post a picture of the track!

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            • #7
              Here's a lynx track,
              http://pets.webshots.com/photo/12168...UCO?vhost=pets
              the claws are visible in this only because it was on a steep slope in pretty deep and very soft silty mud. Otherwise the toe print would end blunt, but this cat was moving at a decent rate and climbing up hill at the same time. A lynx track (or bobcat) is often mistaken for a cougar print since even though the cats are all very different sizes, both bobcats and lynx have disproportionately huge feet for their size.
              That's my hand next to the track, took me a good long while to finally get a glimpse of the cat itself though. They're not common at all in CT and I was thrilled to see it. It spent 3 years walking my property a few times weekly and then disappeared. Never bothered the animals here, horses weren't even phased by it. But the wild turkeys...now those terrify the horses.
              You jump in the saddle,
              Hold onto the bridle!
              Jump in the line!
              ...Belefonte

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              • #8
                Juvenile cougars can be darker in color. (ask me how I know...le sigh)

                We had more than one horse in our area attacked by a cougar last year. We had one in our pasture last year too...which I got on video.

                Anyway...there "are no cougars in MI" according to MDNR...

                But as others said, cats have retractable claws and you will almost never see claw marks on cat tracks--whereas you will almost always see them on dog tracks. The shape of the pads is also different.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wendy View Post
                  I don't think cougars come in black, and while possible, it seems unlikely a black jaguar managed to make it up to Texas. I have had people "call in" reports of a "black panther" after sightings of my black great dane out in the woods. He also leaves huge cat-like prints due to the shape of his feet.
                  Mountain lions come in black and we have one living around here, the game warden has confirmed it, as he travels to the Palo Duro canyon in the TX panhandle and has been seen by us and some of our neighboring ranches.
                  They are very rare, most mountain lions are some shade of tan.

                  There is a clear difference, grown mountail lion tracks are very large, larger than any other such track you may see around.

                  Even a muddy, splashed out big track from other animals is just not that large.

                  Call your game warden and ask.
                  Here they work out of our sheriff's office.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    well, even if a big cat is not native to your area, there are enough yahoos that think it's 'kewl' to own a big cat as a pet (and having a rambunctious 10 pounder at home, makes it clear how bad of an idea it is to have a really big one....but I disgress) and since they are not legal in most cases....well, I can just picture one getting away and the owner not mentioning it to anybody...after all, Florida is home to a lot of exotic species now (not counting the Human population in Miami) due to dumping....
                    Originally posted by BigMama1
                    Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                    GNU Terry Prachett

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                    • #11
                      Alagirl, this is very true. We had our horses last year within earshot of a big cat rescue place. The snarls and growls drove the stallions NUTS but strangely enough the geldings and mares didn't seem to mind that much after a while. We moved ASAP (we didn't know it was there when we moved in, and it was temporary quarters anyway while we were waiting for our fencing to go up).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        This can be a pretty useful site for identifying mammal tracks. Click on "wildlife guides" and you'll see a link for mammal tracks.

                        http://www.enature.com/home/
                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                        -Rudyard Kipling

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                        • #13
                          That is a nice site - I like how they give different sign rather than just simply tracks. I looked up deer just as an example, and they are missing a bit of information, though. In whitetail deer, the males have more rounded front hooves because they tend to paw the ground when marking, so you can tell does from bucks just by tracks, and they didn't mention that. I'm not sure how common that knowledge is, though. I thought it was pretty common...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                            Juvenile cougars can be darker in color. (ask me how I know...le sigh)

                            We had more than one horse in our area attacked by a cougar last year. We had one in our pasture last year too...which I got on video.

                            Anyway...there "are no cougars in MI" according to MDNR...

                            But as others said, cats have retractable claws and you will almost never see claw marks on cat tracks--whereas you will almost always see them on dog tracks. The shape of the pads is also different.
                            If I ever see a cougar on my parents' land I'm shooting it (by definition it's putting livestock and humans in danger) and dumping at DNR headquarters.

                            To the OP--get a good track book, but you'll never really confuse canid versus felid once you get an idea of what they look like. And yeah--there are no black panthers, but there ARE black (melanistic) leopards (would have to be an exotic release) and there are black jaguars (EXTREMELY unlikely to be in North America--there is no population north of central america of the black type, and there are very few jaguars of any kind north of Mexico.) Pumas can look dark in some lights and have darker coats, but if the track is close in size to a coyote then it's likely a bobcat or lynx.
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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Ok, this is definately dog/coyote because it had nail marks.

                              Thanks!!

                              I *know* there's some big black cat around here because both "sightings" were good friends of mine and not the usual local yahoos who claim to see things. One friend is an avid predator hunter and he was kicking himself when he was visiting his home under construction and saw the cat on his property... Of course he didn't have a single gun with him or it would have been a very pretty wall mount. That was about 5 miles away.

                              The other sighting was a little too close for comfort. Less than a mile from my house I think it's time to get the predator calls out and see what we can lure in.

                              In TX cougars are non-native so there's no game regulations that apply to them, you can shoot one any time. It doesn't have to be threatening your livestock. I imagine it would be the same with this black cat and it sure would be interesting to find out what it is.

                              Now, here's for something cool... We have an Ocelot in our area. I'm actually shopping for game cameras as I type. I've seen pictures of the Ocelot and supposedly they don't live here either. I'm not sure if that's a released pet or one that ventured north. I think they have them in south TX on the King Ranch.

                              Anyway, thanks for the info, that eNature site is really cool!

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                Mountain lions come in black and we have one living around here, the game warden has confirmed it, as he travels to the Palo Duro canyon in the TX panhandle and has been seen by us and some of our neighboring ranches.
                                They are very rare, most mountain lions are some shade of tan.
                                Yeah, Hubby always said Mountain Lions were like Labs and could have tan or black kittens like a Lab can have black, yellow or brown pups. We watched a TV show recently that said the black Mountain Lions were one in a million but possible. The show was talking about sightings recently in TN and other areas in the SE. Very interesting stuff. I guess I'll just have to see what shows up on my game camera and I might have to invest in another donkey to protect the herd.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I found this and it compares Bobcat, Dog, Coyote, and Mountain Lion (aka Cougar) tracks

                                  http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publicat...w7000_0274.pdf

                                  Scroll down to page 11
                                  RIP Kid Gloves (Holly) 1992 TBxHanv CCI*** mare.
                                  http://photobucket.com/tx3dayeventer/holly
                                  New mare: Miss Bunny Express (Missy) 1995 AQHA Jumper mare.
                                  http://photobucket.com/tx3dayeventer/missy

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
                                    OMG, how big is that cat???

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by FatPalomino View Post
                                      OMG, how big is that cat???
                                      It's not that the cat is big, it's that the paws are, to facilitate walking on snow. (Think snowshoes on humans.)
                                      Nevertheless, she persisted.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Yup, what Rainyday said. That lynx has a body about the size of a beagle maybe...but the legs are pretty long in relation to the body and the feet are huge compared to both legs and body size. Snowshoes. I'd guess he was about 25 lbs, give or take. Maybe height about a little taller than my knee. Probably knee height on a more average height person, I'm on the short side. (about 5'2")
                                        Funny part is, they're feet are so large compared to their bodies that their prints are almost the same size as a cougar's...and yet a cougar can easily be 4x the size of a lynx or bobcat.
                                        I was really surprised it was a lynx and not a bobcat, bobcat are a lot more common here than lynx are. It did freak out the builders though, that photo was taken when our barn was being built. The entire area was churned up mud so the prints were very visible. And it was moving fast, the prints on the flat were nowhere near each other. I had some fun teasing the builders telling them someone must have a pet tiger that got loose...until they threatened to stop coming to out in the foundation.
                                        You jump in the saddle,
                                        Hold onto the bridle!
                                        Jump in the line!
                                        ...Belefonte

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