Tuesday, April 24, 2012

# 3 - Red Wolf Awareness Project: Identifing Wolves by Scat

Foxes, Coyotes and Wolves each have different feeding patterns - each targets different levels of the food chain.  Foxes tend to target things as small as insects (locusts), mice and rodents up to rabbits and medium sized birds.  Coyotes focus more on rodents, rabbits and an occasional young deer. Wolves primarly feed on deer (White Tailed deer in the NC region).  Since the bone and hair commonly passes undigested through the animal - its scat (fecal matter) is helpful in identification of the animal.  Below you see a Coyotes scat - notice its descanted (dry) white color, this is common for Coyotes.
The white grey fur is likely to be rabbit and rodent.  Below are images of Wolf scat, notice that instead of fur you see coarse hair - this is typical of deer.  Also in fresher samples the scat is quit dark almost black - typical of high flesh/blood content and less commonly seen in Coyote.
For better dimensions, that is a rabbit pellet at lower right of the wolf scat.

An interesting but not conclusive find was made when one of our trackers happened to make his mark next to the below wolf scat with dung beetles around it.
This scat was at one of the backwoods main entrances - as though marking the forest as wolf territory.  The following week our team returned to the site but the scat was completely removed - no hair or sign of the decayed matter.  Perhaps the beetles?  Did the wolf feel challenged and remove his/her mark?  Or was it more like 'oh, beg your pardon, by all means come into our woods...' grin.  Till next time - keep alert in the forest!

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