Chris Morgan's Wildnotes

Ever wondered just how big a cougar (mountain lion) paw is?

My hand next to the front paw (I have large hands)
My hand next to the front paw of a cougar (I have large hands)
My hand on top of front paw
My hand on top of front paw
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Notice – four toes, and the claws are usually not visible on a cat track (unless heading down hill or moving fast). Also, the main pad has 2 lobes at the top – sometimes tough to tell though
A picture I took in Arizona recently
A picture I took in Arizona recently showing track sizes. in Washington State we call them cougars, in Arizona they call them mountain lions
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The best source of information on tracking NW wildlife – Dave Moskowitz’s wonderful book

When you are out on the trail it’s often tough to identify tracks of various animals ahead of you. People often underestimate the size of cougar tracks, and it can be difficult to differentiate dog/wolf from cougar. I took these pictures recently to show the size of an average cougar paw (sadly this was a road-killed mature female near my home in Bellingham, WA). As a scale, my four fingers are 3.5 inches across. Notice there are four toes (5 on a bear, 4 on a wolf/dog), and the main pad has two lobes at the top. Keep your eyes peeled – it’s amazing tuning into the wild by looking for wildlife sign – it brings the place ALIVE!

Cheers,
Chris
4.3.15

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