Wahkeena - Multnomah Cat Tracks

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dmthomas49
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Wahkeena - Multnomah Cat Tracks

Post by dmthomas49 » December 27th, 2019, 11:39 am

Took a hike Wahkeena Multnomah Loop this morning. Saw these tracks in the snow. What is this cat? It came from down below, walked the trail for a while, then headed above the trail. It is possible that we were there about the same time. My shoe is a 10.5. I noticed that its gait seemed to show the back paw almost covering the same space as the front paw.
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pcg
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Re: Wahkeena - Multnomah Cat Tracks

Post by pcg » December 27th, 2019, 11:42 am

Beautiful cougar tracks and great observation re. the gait. Cougars normally walk in an overstep pattern - hind foot falls in front of front foot. When you see a direct register diagonal walk (which is what the photo shows and what you described - hind falling directly or almost directly on front) it indicates that the animal is either walking very slowly to not make noise (such as stalking), or they are doing it to save energy in deep snow. Obviously this animal was not post-holing in deep snow, so it's likely it sensed something and was trying to be quiet, for whatever reason we'll never know.

The bottom photo is interesting. There appear to be three tracks, but there are actually four, as you probably already have surmised. The bottom is a left hind over a left front. The track in the middle, that is slightly ahead of the others, is the right hind, and the upper track is the right front. I'm only guessing here, but this looks like a point where he stopped and regrouped his body and feet, maybe he paused and stepped back?

Note that the sides of the heel pad of hind tracks of cougars (same for bobcats) are slightly concave in comparison to the sides of front heel pads. At first I thought this must be a tom, based on the large size of the heel pad relative to toe pads. However, cougar tracks normally show more negative space than this, so I think there has been some melt-out that makes the toe and heel pads larger than they are. Also, a tom's track can be as wide as 10-1/2 boots (my size as well), so I think this is probably a female.

Fun stuff! Did you trail it for a while?

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dmthomas49
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Re: Wahkeena - Multnomah Cat Tracks

Post by dmthomas49 » December 27th, 2019, 8:18 pm

I was thinking more about this. The location of where the cougar’s tracks left the trail was in direct line of sight from where I came around a bend. The cougar tracks that I saw in mud were very fresh. So I could have startled the cougar when I came around the bend. Unfortunately its eyesight is better than mine. It would have been cool to actually see it. I don’t think I have looked back on a trail as much as I did after the footprint sighting! 😯

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Chip Down
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Re: Wahkeena - Multnomah Cat Tracks

Post by Chip Down » December 29th, 2019, 5:28 pm

Oh...when I saw the topic title, I was thinking of mechanical "cat" tracks in the snow. :oops:
I don’t think I have looked back on a trail as much as I did after the footprint sighting!
I once ran across a fresh kill in the snow. Got the heck out of there!

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