Help identifying animal track

Asked January 11, 2019, 4:40 PM EST


I spotted an animal print that had me thinking it was something more wild than our typical animals seen in the city of Howell MI, and wonder if you can identify the animal. There are two tracks in the photo, the bottom one I believe is a deer, but the one in the top half of the photo has me intrigued.

Livingston County Michigan

1 Response


Always exciting to find some tracks that make you wonder what's been in your neighborhood!

Definitely a deer track on the bottom. As for the top one, because there are claw marks in the track, and due to the shape of the track, it is definitely in the canine family. Felines, such as lynx and cougars, retract their claws more and you usually would not see the claws in the track. And bear tracks are much wider.

For it to be a wolf, it would likely be much larger than a deer track-and they are not likely to be in the lower peninsula, although there have been a few sightings.

To distinguish a dog versus a coyote, one of the best ways is if you are able to see more of the tracks and look for the pattern in the way that the animal moves. Dogs will move in waves, moving back and forth as they stride, but coyotes tend to walk in a straighter line. The main pad for a coyote also differs between the front and back paws, while dog main pads are more similar between front and back. In your area, coyotes are certainly present and they are quite common across Michigan. Without more tracks for comparison, it is hard to say which one you have. Most of the time they belong to dogs, however.

Have fun searching for more tracks as you enjoy the outdoors! :)