Identifying carnivore tracks

Banff National Park

Carnivore tracks

By taking basic safety precautions for carnivores such as wolves, cougars, and coyotes, we can minimize the risks to human safety and ensure the carnivores in Banff National Park remain wild. Wildness in this case means that these animals retain their natural fear of people.

Characteristics of coyote tracks


Medium-sized dog. Thick, bushy tail. Greyish-brown in colour.

  • coyote track
    • Four toe pads
    • Claws show
    • Elongated, symmetrical footprint
    • Hind print slightly smaller
    • Average print 6.4 cm long
    • Smaller than a wolf track

Learn more about coyotes in Banff National Park

Characteristics of wolf tracks


Built like a large German Shepherd, with longer legs. Colour can vary from white to black.

    • Four toe pads
    • Claws show or form drag marks
    • Elongated, symmetrical footprint
    • Triangular heel pad
    • Often travel in trenches through deep snow
    • Hind print slightly smaller
    • Tracks 10 - 12 cm long
    • Larger than coyote track

Learn more about wolves in Banff National Park

Characteristics of cougar tracks


The largest Canadian cat is the mountain lion or cougar. Although rarely seen, signs indicate that there is a small but healthy population of approximately 7-10 animals in the park.

    • Four toe pads form a semi-circle
    • Claws do not show
    • Elongated asymmetrical foot print
    • Three lobes on heel pad
    • Slow deliberate steps
    • Hind print slightly smaller
    • Tracks are wider than longer
    • Double-register when walking
    • Tail drags in deep snow

Learn more about cougars in Banff National Park


Identifying carnivore tracks | Wildlife safety | Wildlife watching and photography

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