Identify These Feces

Bob Haynie took this photo in Washington State and is wondering what animal might have left it. He notes that the fibrous material seems to be hair. He adds: "I usually put a dollar bill down for scale, but my photography has improved so now I am using a 20."

Bob and I agree on a theory, but I thought I'd withhold it for a day or two and see what other people think. 


  1. Between the hair present, plus overall size and shape, I'd guess something feline and large--little hard to tell because they look to have been there a while. I'd guess mountain lion or possibly bobcat based on the above criteria...

  2. So far mountain lion is the popular answer. The size seems to make bobcat unlikely, according to guides I've looked at.

  3. True. Bobcats in my area do not seem to be very large--a very big, muscular domestic cat would equal their mass much of the time, though not the height usually. But they do vary quite a bit--I think the record bobcat outweighed the record Canada lynx, though usually it's the reverse.

    All of which makes it most amusing when scientists and rangers try to attribute cougar sightings outside the supposed limits of the cats' range to encounters with bobcats--or escaped exotics like servals. Neither of these animals look anything like an adult cougar except for both being cats.

  4. The problem, as I see it, is that cougars don't abide by the idea of range. The young males, especially, can wander hundreds of miles--more than a thousand miles, in one case. Which means virtually no place in North America is definitely outside their range.

  5. Very true. Aside from the one I saw a few years back (and a number of other people, including one of my brothers, also saw it)animals have turned up in recent years with injuries consistent with the mauling a cougar would give quarry. Cattle mostly, but in one case a horse. The only other creature we have big enough to consider adult cattle or horses as prey in this area would be bears, and the cow maulings occurred in the dead of winter. (Also, I have trouble featuring a black bear as tackling an animal as large, fast and if cornered, able to fight as a horse.) The injuries were primarily to the necks, shoulders and faces--consistent with where a cat grabs prey. While coyotes were suggested as well, I have never known them to attack full-grown cows, and most coyote-horse interactions I've seen or heard report of either involve the horses ignoring the coyotes, or else chasing them off (a friend of mine reports a horse on her parents' farm actually killing one that it managed to catch up with and corner.)


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