Sunday 21 December 2014

Who was in the backyard?

Our big event was early Wednesday morning (7:35 a.m.) as hubby was on the phone canceling the car maintenance, an hour and 87 km away! It was above zero last night, then the snow changed back to rain. Then, it was just below zero. Our driveway was a 100m skating rink!

Pink = freezing, blue =  snow, green = rain!
As he talked to the service peeps on the phone, looking out at the trees drooping with ice, he saw what he thought was a large German Shepherd crossing our backyard. Yikes!
We have no domesticated dogs that run loose. There isn't much for them in the wetland!

Out I went to measure the tracks, at hubby's suggestion. (He has a bad back!)

The keys to identifying a track (coyote vs. wolf)  lies in the number of toes, and the size of a paw print, as well as the tracks themselves. Then, if you can see the claws, that means it is likely canine (like the ones below), as opposed to the large wild felines. Domesticated cats, fishers, raccoons all show their toes, as do the coyotes and wolves.

Another clue, figuring out who is hibernating (bears), and who is estivating (squirrels)! I'm thinking the raccoons would well be awake again! Reptiles brumate, since they are unable to regulate their body temperature.
These wolves were in the store - sadly stuffed

So far, knock wood, our CoyWolf won't track across the backyard in the daytime. (It does in the dark!) It went across the back yard this past week. He chased a deer up onto the lawn this year [March 26 - during a long winter], and paced back and forth across the back, refraining from coming out into the open in the day. He was impressive to watch! Fearing coming onto the lawn.

 I'd rather have a wolf than a coyote because the coyotes are getting used to people and civilization. There have been horror stories from those in the cities, with pets disappearing.

Wednesday's tracks were quite distinct. The coyote's outer two toes are larger than the front. In the wolf, it is the reverse. Mine looked about the same. Coyotes cannot bring down a deer. Wolves, in a pack, can. We have a lot of road kill and our CoyWolf has hauled a body back into the bushes to feed.

Measure Coyote CoyWolf or Eastern Grey Wolf Mine
Paw length 6 cm 7 - 9 cm 12 cm 7.6 cm
Paw width 4 cm - 6 cm   10 cm 4 cm
Stride 38 - 40 cm   66 cm 48 cm
Snout narrow  hybrid broad  
Shoulder height 45 cm   76 cm  
Body length 100 - 120 cm 120 -  150 cm 150 - 180 cm  
Ears pointed   rounded  
Weight 11- 20 kg 14 - 35 kg. 32 - 45 kg.
25 - 45 lbs. 30 - 55 lb 70 - 100 lbs

Another clue: the scat. I've seen some 4" long, with much fur (a coyote) as well as 6" long (a wolf). I'm sure we have a larger canine in the area, during my walks through the forest and wetland.
I can only conclude that our visitor was a hybrid that tends to be in southern Ontario. That's what I hope. I'd rather it be a CoyWolf than Coyote!

Land-clearing and exploitation by people, following European colonization, resulted in lower Gray Wolf or  Eastern wolf populations in the southeastern United States and the larger population in central Ontario and southern Quebec.

A permanent ban on the harvesting of wolves (and the similar looking species, the Coyote) in 40 township surrounding Algonquin Park was put in place in May 2004. Eastern Wolves (and therefore Red Wolves) are very small in size compared to the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) living in the boreal forest north of Lake Superior in Ontario.
Hairy fox poo!

Two Arctic Wolves – sisters – needed to be to be
taken in by Aspen Valley. 
Zoe the coyote at Aspen Valley


  • (A) Establish the Line of Travel - toes in front!
  • Stride -  right heel to left heel (A)
  • Length of Track - toe to toe.
  • Length paw print (C)
  • Width - of the paw print (D)
  • Straddle -  how far the prints stray from the tape measure/centre line
  • This is how one measures PITCH
  • Pitch - green arrow


    carol l mckenna said...

    Fascinating and very informative post and photos ~ Be cozy, warm and safe.

    Happy Holidays,
    artmusedog and carol

    Nancy J said...

    I wonder if you will see it again, too bad the road was too icy. Have you ever been a zoologist? I love the details and data you give, it all makes so much sense. Take care in that freeze,...Jean

    Out To Pasture said...

    Great research Jennifer. So much fun to examine the evidence.

    eileeninmd said...

    Cool post! I am not sure if I would want a Coyote or a Wolf in my yard.. Both are exciting to see. Have a happy Sunday!

    Anonymous said...

    thanks for all the very informative info on the paw prints, something those of us in the country should be able to identify

    William Kendall said...

    The wolves of Algonquin have always appealed to me. One of the great memories is seeing one sitting on the same cliff as me.

    Red said...

    I wish we had a similar attitude toward wolves. Her the ranchers complain so its out with the wolves. They have every reason in the book to destroy wolves...not many of them valid.

    Cloudia said...

    How very exciting, Jenn!

    ALOHA from Honolulu

    The Furry Gnome said...

    Lots of tracks around here too. I should be more careful about the details and try to identify them.

    Yamini MacLean said...

    Hari OM
    Oh my word, you do have some excitement on your land!!! The closest thing here, to this, is the feral fox which occasionally visits the father's garden in Edinburgh.... YAM xx

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

    Oh! I had no idea that there was such a thing as a hybrid wolf/coyote. I'm amazed, but actually don't know why I should be so surprised on second thought. Wow. Be safe (you and your kitties).

    Powell River Books said...

    I've never heard of a CoyWolf hybrid before, but it makes sense if they share a territory. When we lived in LA we had a park across the street and a green area behind us. The coyotes came to harvest all the pets unlucky enough to be out for a stroll. We lost lots of pet cats before we made them become indoor only. That's tough to do when you get strays from the pound. - Margy