Mountain Lion Identification Course
April 25th edit: I have removed the tracks identified as dog – this would be what i thought was a smaller juvenile cougar. they have been correctly identified as having two lobes in the rear of the paw pad instead of the 3 a cat would have had. I have left in the older looking, much larger prints more characteristic of a large cat available for viewing. Please post in the comments on this post if you can help in identifying these tracks(scroll to bottom).
The distance between the tracks with the arrow in between them is 27”. That would give a left-to-left or right-to-right stride length of 54” An adult mountain lion has an average stride of 40”.
The width of the tracks is about 4 and a half to 5 inches wide. My boot measures 4 3/8ths across the front pad area, these tracks were about the same size as my boot with the exception of the one with the toes spread very widely, it was slightly wider.
These tracks do not display definitive “oh yea thats a mountain lion” traits, but they do have several of the features.
Claw/Toenail Marks – NO
Toes spread outward – YES
Teardrop shaped toes – YES
Toes close together, point forward – NO
About 4-5” wide – YES
X shape along toe parallels – NO
40” or greater stride – YES
Oval shape – NO
# of Lobes on pads – 3
Claw/Toenail Marks – YES
Toes spread outward – NO
Teardrop shaped toes – NO
Toes close together, point forward – YES
About 4-5” wide – NO
X shape along toe parallels – YES
40” or greater stride – ??
Oval shape – YES
# of Lobes on pads – 2
Exact GPS coordinates – 35.054238,-97.215055
Click on the images for full size image, click again to get out of fit to screen mode on your browser, and hold down ctrl-mouse_scroll_wheel if you wish to zoom in further. The overlay images have the pad lobes outlined in red, visible in full size viewing.
Dog print features not present in the photographed tracks:
|A typical dog track. This one is from a golden retriever named Holly.||The overall shape of a dog track is oval. Here the shape is outlined in yellow. Dog tracks are usually longer than they are wide.||If you look at the position of the toes in a dog track, you can draw an imaginary X along the ridge between the heel pad and the outer toes. Here it is done in yellow.|
I got to spend some time with the wildlife dept today inspecting the tracks. It was fun watching them work & learning how to make plaster molds of prints. The prints were determined to be that of a very large dog, most likely a saint bernard. The three lobes that appear in the picture with the arrow were caused by the dog walking paw over paw creating an overlapping main paw pad just right so that it made three lobes. In this particular print the dog appears to not have toe nails as well, see original print above, zoom waaay in see if you can find any.
The prints themselves were larger than the last verified mountain lion track they had worked on, neat stuff.
The tracks with the arrow appear to be cat tracks to me. It looks like there’s a 10 % chance of rain tonight so let’s continue to plan and meet tomorrow. I really appreciate you sending this information for confirmation. I also want to commend you for your research efforts to identify the tracks on you blog. I particularly like the beartracker site and the Michigan site I have looked at them in the past.
Good luck with the sonogram always exciting!
The rear print from the picture with the arrow:
From my outdoor journal:
April 20, 2012
Dave sent me a couple of pictures via text.
Here’s the accompanying text conversation:
Dave (1205hrs): Pic 1
Sky (1207hrs): You at black kettle
Dave (?): Lexington
Sky (1208hrs): Bow or shotgun
Dave (?): Bow
Sky (1209hrs): Happy hunting…wish I could have joined ya
Dave (1215hrs): Mountain lion track very very fresh. Spooky
Dave (1216hrs): Pic 2
Sky (1219hrs): Its watching you. Sizing you up. Waiting for the perfect ambush from behind
Sky (1237hrs): confirming now using the computer. Narrowed down to a small or juvenile mountain lion or average sized bobcat. Checking further will let ya know what I find.
Sky (1244hrs): The only way to differentiate between the 2 that I’m finding is to measure the distance between canines.
Dave (1247hrs): Check dpr.com
Sky (1249hrs): B/cats and M/lions inhabit the same areas, hunt and kill in the same way. B/cats have a 1 to 1 ½ inch smaller bite.
Sky (1256hrs): On missouri wd now. That’s where most of that info came from. Mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-sightings/mountain-lions/description-and signs
Sky (1300hrs): Got it. According to this site it’s a half grown mountain lion.
Dave (1302hrs): Video on dpr
Sky (1303hrs): Aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/circ561.html
Sky (1305hrs): From this site I can even tell ya hind from front
Dave (1306hrs): Gonna call tony
Sky (1307hrs): Pic 1 is back foot. Pick 2 is back foot
Sky (1309hrs): I gotta get back to work. Let me know if anything comes of it.
Sky (1315hrs): In pic 2 its running or trotting in pic 1 walking. These are tracks from the same foot.
Dave (1318hrs): Bat dyin gotta go silent
Sky (1328hrs): confirmed by Michigan’s wd it’s a cougar. And 2 sites indicate its an adult.
Dave (1422hrs): Post that and the urls on the comments on my page when you have time pretty please
These are the most helpful, but not all the websites I used in checking the tracks. There’s a lot of repeat and conflicting info on them. What I did was to compare the two pics to internet pics and then use information from a site only if I could confirm it on another site.