Keeping Track of Wolves
Theme: Wolf/Canid Recognition
Duration: 2-3 Class periods, 3-5 days out-of-class
Students demonstrate the ability to distinguish
between wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs.
People are often very confused when they try to
distinguish between wolves, coyotes and dogs.
In Yellowstone, park rangers record many "wolf"
sightings from park visitors each year. Many of
these turn out to be sightings of coyotes. Wolves
and coyotes are often blamed for the depredation
of feral dogs that roam in packs and kill livestock.
While most members of the dog family are similar
in shape, there are differences in size, color,
and behavior that make separating them a fairly
easy task. . .with a little patience.
Wolf, coyote and dog tracks in the form of
silhouettes or plaster casts.
Field guide to mammals and animal tracks
A supply of construction paper
Take a survey of your students to determine how
many have dogs as pets and how many different
breeds are represented. Have your students take
measurements of their dogs’ tracks. Ask them to
try to get tracings or plaster casts of both front
and hind feet of their dogs. Their tracks should
include all the pads and claw marks. Have them
measure the length and width of the tracks with
a ruler and record this information on the side.
While they should make note of the breed of the
dog they measure, this information should not
be recorded on the tracks themselves. Students
who do not have dogs could either work with other
students or measure a neighbor’s dog (with permission,
of course). They could also be in charge of researching
track and size information on wolves and coyotes.
Post all the tracks somewhere in the classroom
as an exhibit and have the students compare the
wolf and coyote tracks with those of the various
Have the students also measure the weight and
stride length of their pet dogs and compare those
with the same measurements for wolves and coyotes.
"Getting to Know the Wolf", A Teacher’s
Guide to the "Wolf Pack" Materials