The answer is: RED FOX.
This was actually a tough quiz because it can be so hard
to distinguish between fox & coyote. In this case, I happen to know
it is a male red fox because I have seen him, watched him mark his
territory, smelled his odor, and measured his tracks many times in this
exact spot, it's his regular route. If I came across these tracks in a
new area, I don't think I could say FOX with certainty, but I would
fox, see below.
Foot size matches red fox, gray fox, bobcat, or a small
coyote. The mixed forested & open habitat is ideal for red fox. The
city park location next to a house pretty much rules out gray fox &
bobcat. If this were the range of Western Coyote, foot size would match
a full-size coyote, but one clue was the photo was Connecticut; most
Eastern Coyote tracks I have encountered are 2-2½" wide. =>
Suggests red fox.
The stride of 14" could also match any of the above
4. But note that for a diagonal walk, while it is possible for coyote or
bobcat to have a walking stride of 14" like this, my observations
have been that the
trail width would be wider. => Suggests red fox.
I'm not sure, but I also have the impression that a
coyote would tend to go around or jump over the logs, and a bobcat would
tend to go out of direct register and/or widen its stance if stepping on
the logs. =>
Suggests red fox.
The skunky odor is also a prime clue for red fox. Field
guides say the skunky odor is strongest in Dec-Feb, and I have smelled
this odor from this particular fox many times during that time of year
when he is marking territory. This instance was the only time I have
ever detected an odor from his footprints, though (the tracks were very
fresh, that's why I crouched down to sniff them). => Suggests red
Hope you enjoyed the quiz and thank you for playing.
Stay tuned for the next one