There are several coyote dens on our ranch in Modoc County CA. Each spring (April) at least one pair of coyotes has a litter in the dens, moving between the holes with their pups as a safety measure.
The recent snows make it easy to monitor activity at the dens. (Between the birthing and weaning period Leonard and I do not visit or disturb the area.) We follow coyote and bobcat prints as both move in a very direct and deliberate path from one den to another.
The coyotes (Canis latrans) appear to be checking out their “maternity ward”, occasionally going into a den. However, they do not seem to stay. Leonard and I think the coyotes are surveying their dens in preparation for the arrival of their pups – assuring the dens remain unoccupied and in acceptable condition.
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) live in nearby rocky outcroppings, but we never saw any use the dens. It looks more like the bobcats are checking if any dens might contain a pigmy rabbit, cottontail or other prey. The trails indicate the bobcats stand at the den entrances yet do not enter.
I have no idea if our speculations are correct. No matter, it is interesting to track the coyotes and bobcats as they move between the dens and hypothesize intent behind the footprint patterns.