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i found these over the weekend after a rainfall about 1 or 2 days before. I am not sure what they could be. Anyone?

first picture is just a close up and the second is kinda an idea of its walk. i am new to this so it could just be a dog but the tracks were lone and they were small for a dog as far as i thought. PLEASE what do yall think?

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Though identifying the maker of these tracks is important, let us hold off on that for a moment.

Here are some guiding questions to help you think about these tracks some more...

How large were the tracks? How much distance between each track?

How would you describe the shape of the metacarpal ("heel") pad behind the toes? What shape are the toes?

Describe the location where you found these.

What might the animal have been doing? Which direction was it traveling?
These tracks are slightly bigger than a silver dollar.

Distance between tracks would be around 12 inches.

I think the metacarpal seems to be roughly shaped like a triangle pointed in the direction of travel. Also, the toes look round and soft almost like a human pinky toe.

We found this track walking along an old secluded service road at about 1800 feet in elevation. The road was overgrown and hadn't been traveled on for a while. It was about 3 miles into the woods along HWY 90 about one hour from Seattle. There were no other tracks on this road and these tracks were just on the road for a small time before we couldn't find them again. Seemed to me the animal was using the old road as a way to move quickly and quietly then moving on back into the forest. He was traveling East on a road that went East/West.
There is definitely some challenge to identifying this set of tracks. The substrate makes seeing the details of the pad and the negative space between toes and metacarpal pad difficult. Despite that robust pad and size of track overall relative to the silver dollar, it has a pretty short stride length.

Here are some of the details I noticed that might help you narrow the possibilities down:

- The track in the first photo is very round
- No claws are visible in any of the tracks, despite the silky mud in the first photo and in patches in the second
- Although not really obvious in any of the tracks, there appears to be leading toes in each track.
- The track on the far left in photo 2 shows 3 lobes on back of metacarpal pad when you zoom in, though the top of the pad is not clearly 2 lobes at top (nearest to toes)
- Metacarpal pads are very robust and blocky
- Not much negative space between pad and toes on any of the tracks
- Toes are round to tear-drop shaped
- The short stride and arrangement of tracks indicates this animal was walking using what appears to be a direct register gait
- It is traveling in an area of low human traffic

With all these clues, what sorts of creatures pop into your head, Jude?
i am thinking bobcat and let me tell you why

-track is round vs a more oval shape that a dog might have
-no claws
-leading toes and 3 lobes on the back pad that are even rather then located higher like a dog would have
-tear-drop shaped toes rather then a round shape that you would see with a dog
-can not easily draw an x separating the front and back of the print as you would be able to with a dog
-short stride and light small prints.

I must say i don't understand the negative space....would a dog or fox have more negative space?

i would be pretty stoked if this was a bobcat! What do you think Filip?
Also, i forgot to add in my first post that i found these rubs too.They look older to me but still. I would like to say Elk rub but to me the marks look much more like claws dragging down the tree like a big scratching post. I saw this rub around the same place as the first tracks i posted but about 2500 feet in elevation. Could this be something more then just a dear/elk rub?

Yes, I agree with you. I think it is a bobcat also. They are wonderful animals, more common than people might guess but so, very elusive!

As you can see with tracking, stacking the evidence is always useful. The more details you notice, the more accurate will be your interpretation. Its all about awareness...

Glad you mentioned drawing an X through it as well! It is true, that most wild dogs (wolves, coyotes, foxes) have tracks through which you can draw an X. Domestic dogs, though, are messier and generally that same negative space forms more of a sloppy H. The gray fox has an H shape of negative space between metacarpal pad and toes.

Regarding the negative space on cats, it varies from species to species, varies with substrate and with sex/age. The negative space in this case is something I mention more because it helps to possibly sex the animal. Though, also cats tend to have a negative space that forms more of a 'C' shape. Though, you must include possible distortions in certain substrates and under certain weather conditions or time of aging of track.

Here is a great resource for trying to sex bobcats via their tracks:

Regarding the second photo (DSC0110(2)), it helps to know that this animal was using direct register walking gait. That means each of those tracks you see is not 1, but 2 tracks stacked on top of each other. That is another reason for their distortion. So, a front foot came down, was picked up and the back foot on the same side was put down into the same spot.

Knowing this, can you see the left and ride sides? Which tracks are from the left side, which are from the right?

As for your great additional photos...

How high were the markings?

The tree in the back on the first photo also has a single scratch on it.

Notice that the width of the scratches on the tree and how they are mostly relatively flat against the trunk of the tree? This implies that the marks were left by something relatively pointed, but blunt. A few of the scratch marks have developed cracks in them. This likely happened after the marks where made, when the bark dried.

Marks left by claws would probably leave deeper impressions in the bark, and would not likely be so concentrated in one spot, however...

I have found old apple trees with many layers of deep claw marks. These were even more densely concentrated that what shows up in your photo (see below). This is one exception that I have found where claw marks are more densely packed than antler rubs, and it is truly exceptional! This is from literally years upon years of bears climbing this tree to get to the apples. All the flimsier limbs have been broken off by the foraging bears. The tree looks very pruned back!

The second photo shows more typical bear sign found on an alder:

What do you notice about the differences?

Great photos here! Are the markings on the trees elk antler rubs? Given their height and shape, that's my guess.


Jude's photos are of elk rubs.  The 2 photos I posted at the end are both from bear.  Both are climbing marks, on different trees.  The first was an apple tree with many years of repeated climbing!


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