Am I Crying Wolf?

By , March 28, 2010

Hiking to the road yesterday, a set of tracks arrested our attention: canine prints larger than we usually see on the peninsula, either from the local coyotes or the neighborhood dogs. We barely had time to inspect them before hurrying to beat the tide. When we returned in the afternoon, we stopped to look more carefully.

A line of large tracks came from the “Moose Highway,” the trail down the Mt. Riley ridge, through the forest to the edge of the trail, abruptly turned, and returned the way it came. I laid down my pocket knife next to or in a few of the prints, and took photos.

(Photo: Mark Zeiger)

(Photo: Mark Zeiger)

The tracks had been made when the snow was slushy, then they froze. That means they were made between yesterday afternoon and late last night. They hadn’t been there long enough to enlarge through melting.

My knife, when opened, is 6 1/2 inches long. That puts these tracks at roughly 4 1/2 to 5 inches. That’s probably too big for the local coyotes.

It could be wolf. It’s smaller than some of our tracking books indicate, but since it was a lone trackway, it might be a younger wolf, on its own away from its birth pack.

If any readers who can tell a wolf track when they see a photo of one could confirm or contradict this identification, please let me know through the comments section!

If it is a wolf, that’d be pretty cool. We once heard wolves howling in the valley between LC Mountain and “The Mountain with No Name” across the canal. We’ve heard that wolves sometimes visit the peninsula, but as far as we know, none have come visiting lately.

Until now?

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