17 January 2010

How To Tell a Mountain Lion track From a Wolf

Well, the big event this past week was my birthday. Egads! I turned sixty-one. It's really hard to imagine but I know it's true when I look at actors from my era and they are getting mighty long in the tooth. Every time I see favorites like Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford I now wonder will I ever see them again. Both these boys are in very good shape for their age so I'm hoping many more times. I just watched Gran Torino for the first time and what a fantastic movie.

My house herd of mule deer dropped by to wish me happy birthday. There is a herd of about twenty deer that pass through about once a day. I had a photo of the group but that dumb Lumix camera malfunctioned and I lost all the photos. Either that or I did. :) But, I did get some new mule deer shots with my Nikons. Nothing to write home about though.

Mulie Doe

Spotted one nice little buck. He won't be having those antlers for long. This is about the time of year when they start to shed them. I wish I knew where they dropped them. For all the wandering we have done we have found very few sheds.

Mulie Buck

As always, when you live in the woods, the weather was/is a major topic. We have been in the midst of a major thaw. The snow has been melting at a prodigious rate turning our world into an ice skating rink. I don't mind cold. I don't mind snow. I loathe and fear ice. It is so treacherous. One false step and you can go down for the count. I wear Kahtoolas when I hike on ice. These are not for urban walking.

The drama for the week was what looked like a mountain lion kill. We stumbled upon a place that showed a lot of blood in the snow. I had seen fresh wolf tracks but knew there were also mountain lions about. After examining the area closely, I concluded that the destruction had been the work of a mountain lion. The main sign was the tracks. Cat tracks are different than wolf tracks in two main features. First and most importantly cats have retractable claws wolves do not. So when you are looking at cat tracks you will not see the telltale toenails. The other thing is that the lion paw is more rounded than the wolf.

Scene of the Crime

You can see from the photo that quite a altercation took place with one party getting the worst of it. Not very pretty but that is the dichotomy of nature.

Mountain Lion Spoor

Interesting to me is the fact that the average wolf is smaller than the cat. The average weight 0f a wolf is 110 to 130 as apposed to the lion which is 120 to 145 pounds. Yet, the wolf has a larger footprint. The wolf front paw is approximately 4.5" x 4.0" and the lion is more on the order of 3.5" x 3.6".

Wolf Track

So, now it's Sunday. The fog is as thick as soup. Koty sez let's just hang at home and so we will. Hard to imagine January is more than half way gone. It will be spring before we know it.

Hanging Around

Cheers for this week.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

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