Western Kentucky Woman Baffled by Huge and Mysterious Animal Tracks in Her Yard
This isn't the first time that Kathy Albin has noticed large and mysterious animal tracks in the yard around her Philpot, Kentucky home. But it's the first time she's been able to get some really good photos and measurements of the prints left behind. And, now, she's even more unsure of what's leaving them.
Kathy lives on Masonville-Habit Road in Daviess County and recently had a tornado shelter installed on her property. That construction project left parts of the yard outside her bedroom window incredibly dirty and muddy. It appears that, sometime earlier this week, she had an unexpected visitor walking around the outside of her house. Whatever it was left behind some pretty noticeable and alarming calling cards.
Here's one print that Kathy captured and its measurements.
As you can see, that particular print measures in right at 4 inches. So, what in the heck left it there?
For some regional context, a bobcat's tracks typically only measure about an inch and a half. Bobcats aren't uncommon here in Owensboro-Daviess County. Neither are coyotes. But, a coyote's prints are a little larger than a bobcat's- measuring in at about 2 1/2 inches.
So, what about a bigger cat? How about a cougar, for the sake of reference? Well, a cougar's prints are slightly bigger than a coyote's. They average about 3 and 1/2 inches by 4 inches (across).
As you can see, the visitor in Kathy's yard had much bigger front paw. That thing clocked in at 5 inches.
These tracks look like they came from a really LARGE dog. However, Kathy knows all of her neighbors and knows their pets as well. There's nothing in the neighborhood that could have left tracks as large as the ones pictured.
So, the question is this- could this have been a wolf? Are wolves in Kentucky even a thing?
My great grandparents lived out in this same area and, when we were kids, we used to camp on some of their property. I distinctly remember being told that we needed to be careful because there were wolves in the woods. Now, this could have just been a case of my parents trying to liven up our trips with some campfire folklore, but I always just took their word for it.
As it turns out, according to various online resources, Kentucky was once home to two different kinds of wolves- the red wolf and the gray wolf. By the way, if you search "gray wolf track" images online, the photos that pop up look remarkably similar to those captured and documented by Kathy.
While some online sources, like All Things Foxes, claim that Kentucky no longer has a wolf population, others, like Kentucky Living, suggest that the gray wolf population has actually rebounded. In fact, according to that specific article, state wildlife officials claimed that a gray wolf was shot and killed in Hart County, Kentucky back in 2013 and, at that time, it was the first confirmed wolf kill in the Commonwealth in 150 years.
For reference, and this may be helpful to Kathy in her quest to determine what was prowling around her house, gray wolves can weigh up to 175 pounds and can measure between 24 to 35 inches in the shoulder. My, what big claws you have!
By the way, Kathy's home is surrounded by woods and that's distinctly taking me back to those childhood camping trips. I never knew for sure if there were really wolves circling our tents at night. And we can't really be sure if they're circling Kathy's house? But we do know something with really big paws and claws is leaving its mark in Philpot.