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Are there any methods to distinguish individual coyotes from a distance (with a binocular or telephoto lens)? Are there marks or patterns we could be looking for?

Similarly, if I have seen a coyote at the same location multiple times, what should I look for to see if it has been the same coyote?

I've been searching about it and only found ways to distinguish individual wolves.

Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ Is there some reason you think the approaches that you found for wolves wouldn't work? $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    May 26, 2020 at 22:58

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According to a colleague that dabbles in tracking coyotes and other mammals in the San Diego area, "it is difficult to do unless you see them a lot. People may do it based on color of the tip of the tail, chunks taken out of ears, or gender if you get a good look". Apparently people do this for mountain lions based on their tracks (morphology/size), see here and here.

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The Wikipedia entry for subspecies of coyotes has a very useful chart here (click [show]) that gives a description, range, and other information for each of the 19 subspecies of coyotes. Since I presume you are from the California area, I would focus on the descriptions of coyote subspecies that could exist around your area, such as the San Pedro Martir coyote, which has "reddish summer fur and a short, broad skull" to differentiate among the various coyotes you many encounter. Generally, the coyotes differ in color, teeth, tail size, fur, ears, and other such factors. As for determining if you've seen a coyote already, I suppose there's no real way of knowing unless there is a unique marker on the coyote's fur or appendages that differentiates itself from the others; however, examining the coyote's scats and comparing them may be a viable option for this, but that would require you to examine close to the coyotes rather than from afar.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think OP is concerned with subspecies of coyotes, but rather distinguishing individuals, the way one might differentiate and name wolves in the same pack even if they are all related. Accuracy is likely to be suspect, but for some species there are patterns of variation that can be useful for this. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    May 26, 2020 at 22:43

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