Identifying large predator tracks

Everyone is concerned with bears and how to deal with bears, and that is a respectable concern for hikers, but throughout most of North America, your most likely large mammal encounter is going to be feline or canine. and you’re far more likely to encounter tracks than the actual animal – so it might behoove you to know how to identify different large mammal tracks.  Fortunately, it’s not too hard to learn.

Bears have 5 toes and you’ll see claw marks in front of each one.

 

With dog tracks, you’ll see 4 toes and toenail marks.  Also, dogs’ heel pads are concave in the back.

 

Cats have 4 toes and you won’t see toenail marks because they can retract their claws.  Also, cats’ heel pads have a bumpy, lobed appearance in the back.