How to Identify Coyote Tracks in the Wild

Uncategorized By Mar 30, 2023

Coyote tracks can reveal the elusive predators’ presence in an area. Although it is uncommon to see coyotes, tracking is a useful way to explore the outdoors and learn about animals in their natural habitation. A common misconception about coyote tracks is that they are oval-shaped and have four toes without claws. Coyotes have retractable claws that are not always visible in tracks. Identifying a coyote track involves looking for negative space, and observing the large triangle-shaped back pads. Coyote tracks indicate areas where they find food, water, and shelter such as water sources, woodland edges, and animal trails.

How to Identify Coyote Tracks in the Wild

The coyote is a highly adaptable, elusive predator that can be found in many areas of North America. As a general rule, coyotes are not often seen by humans, but they leave behind plenty of clues to their presence, including tracks. Tracking can be an enjoyable and educational way to explore the outdoors and learn about the animals that inhabit a given area. In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify coyote tracks in the wild.

Identifying Coyote Tracks

Coyote tracks tend to be about 2.5-3.5 inches in length and usually less than 2.5 inches wide. A common misconception is that coyote tracks are always oval-shaped, or that they have four toes and an absence of claws. This is not always the case, as coyotes have retractable claws that don’t always show up in their tracks. As such, coyote tracks can sometimes appear to have five toes.

The most distinguishing feature of coyote tracks is the indentation that goes down into the ground between their toes. This is known as a negative space, and it can help to identify a coyote track even when other factors are ambiguous. Another distinguishing feature of coyote tracks is that their back pads are usually very large and triangular in shape.

When looking for coyote tracks, it is useful to consider their habitat. Coyotes thrive in a range of environments, from urban areas to forests and prairies. They are often drawn to areas where they can find food, water, and shelter. Look for tracks near water sources, woodland edges, and along animal trails.


Q: Are coyotes dangerous to humans?

A: Coyotes are generally not dangerous to humans. However, they are wild animals and should be treated with respect. If you do encounter a coyote, keep your distance and give it plenty of room to escape.

Q: Can coyote tracks be mistaken for dog tracks?

A: Yes, coyote tracks can sometimes be mistaken for dog tracks, especially if the coyote has retractable claws that don’t show up in the track.

Q: How can I tell the difference between a coyote and a wolf?

A: Coyotes are smaller and more slender than wolves, and their tracks tend to be smaller as well. Coyote tracks typically have a more oval shape, while wolf tracks tend to be more round.

Q: Can I track coyotes year-round?

A: Yes, you can track coyotes year-round, but you may have more success during the winter months when their tracks are more visible in the snow.

In conclusion, identifying coyote tracks in the wild can be an enjoyable and educational activity. With a little practice, you can learn to spot these elusive predators and gain a better understanding of their habits and habitat. Remember to always be respectful of coyotes and to keep a safe distance if you encounter them in the wild.