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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wolf and coyote scratchings

I captured several nice coyote photos this week. That got me thinking about some of the photos I took in Yellowstone last week and I decided to wrote a post about scratching. But first, a few camera trap photos from our place.

Eastern Coyote
(Seneca Falls, NY 2/12)
A few tips to tell coyotes from wolves. First, look at the dainty snout. Wolves have thicker snouts. Coyotes are built to kill prey smaller than themselves while wolves are built to kill prey bigger than themselves (not that they always follow that rule..). Secondly, look at how long the tail is compared to the length of the legs. Wolves are more long legged and the tail appears far shorter.

Eastern Coyote
(Seneca Falls, NY 2/12)
Another good way to distinguish wolves from coyote is foot size. Wolves simply have enormous paws. But we should save foot size for another post.

I was in Yellowstone for two days last week and was able to see numerous coyotes. I was in Lamar Valley when a pair walked across the road in front of my car.
Western Coyote
Yellowstone National Park, 1/12)
As the coyotes moved away, the lead coyote appeared to urinate on the trail and then scratched over it.

Coyote scratching
(Yellowstone National Park, 1/12)
When the trailing coyote crossed the path of the first he(?) stopped to investigate.
Pair of coyotes
(Yellowstone National Park, 1/12)
And he appeared to mark over the spot:
Coyote overmarking
(Yellowstone National Park, 1/12)

Wolves exhibit the same behavior. This summer, I took a tracking class in Idaho. On our last day, we had the opportunity to follow a paor of fresh wolf tracks for quite some distance. The wolves passed in front of a camera trap, so we knew we were about five hours behind them. We came upon a spot where one or both of the wolves scratched the trail. Have a look:
Gray Wolf scratch
(Idaho, 7/11)
Here is a closer view:

Gray Wolf scratch (and track)
(Idaho, 7/11)
A little farther up the trail, we found a fresh urine

Gray Wolf urine
(Idaho, 7/11)
Note the wolf tracks in the photo. I particularly like the one in the bottom right.  

1 comment:

  1. Dude- 2 entries in 24 hours?! Nice.

    I want to tell you about this lecture Nick gave us in the woods about coyote/grays/reds/dogs...


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