The cougar is truly a magnificant animal. It is a large, powerful predator that hunts with stealth and speed yet also exhibits some of the playfulness of a house cat.

The cougar in this photo participated in a tracker education project where his handlers tried to stimulate different gaits over a sand track trap. Typical of cats, he was not very responsive to his handlers and was more interested in examining the crowd than cooperating for scraps of food. After several unsuccessful tries, the handlers finally tied a rag to the end of a rope and dragged it across the ground. The cougar instantly transformed from a casual observer into an efficient hunting machine, covering the length of the track trap in an instant.

See below for examples of cougar tracks and paws.


The tracks of a cougar can be quite distinctive, at least under good conditions. There is a certain asymetry to a cougar track--toe 3 is longer than the other toes and the interdigital pad is slightly askew. The front of the interdigital pad has two lobes while the rear of the pad has three lobes. These features can be seen quite readily in the large paws of the cougar.

The following tracks were made by a female with two kittens prowling around Hood River, Mt Hood, Oregon.

This track was cast during the spring bear and cougar census at Silver Falls State Park.

I copied this cast from the collection of James Halfpenny.


These cougar paws, photographed from the collection of James Halfpenny, show the features that create the distinctive track quite clearly.

Photo by Dennis Deck

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